Sometimes referred to as The Vaccine Court, the VICP is a program that was created in the 1980’s by The United States Congress to compensate injured individuals and families affected by vaccine side effects.
For the most part, vaccines save countless lives on a daily basis. In fact, statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) demonstrate dramatic declines in vaccine-preventable diseases when compared with the pre-vaccine era.
However, vaccines can also cause everything from mild to severe and sometimes even life-threatening side effects or injury. This is why The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was created.
What is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)?
Every year, the U.S. government pays hundreds of millions of dollars to people who were injured by vaccines. It’s all part of a tax-funded program called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Since 1988, $4.2 billion has been paid to over 7,000 people who were injured by severe vaccine side effects.
How Does It Work?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created by Congress in the 1980s after lawmakers became concerned that lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies would result in fewer new vaccines, shortages of existing vaccines, and skyrocketing costs.
So, funded by a $0.75 tax on the sale of every vaccine, the VICP was designed to create a pool of money to compensate people who inevitably suffer rare but severe side effects, like allergic reactions.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
For the most part, pharmaceutical companies who make vaccines are immune to injury lawsuits — people must go through the VICP to receive compensation. One exception is Zostavax lawsuits against Merck involving people who were injured by the shingles vaccine.
Am I Eligible to File a Claim?
The VICP is an alternative to the traditional legal system. Instead of filing a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, any person (of any age) who believes they were injured by an eligible vaccine can file a petition with the VICP.
What About a Settlement?
Even in cases when the VICP does not agree that the injury was caused by a vaccine, you may still receive compensation through a settlement. In fact, approximately 70% of all compensation awarded by the VICP comes as result of a negotiated settlement.
VICP Pays Your Legal Fees, Even if You Lose
If you file a vaccine injury claim, the VICP will pay your legal fees, even if you are not awarded compensation, if certain minimal requirements are met. The VICP paid $25 million in legal fees in 2017.
Lawyers Specialize in Vaccine Injury Lawsuits
There are several law firms that specialize in vaccine-injury claims. These lawyers make it as simple and cheap as possible for everyone who was injured by vaccines to file a claim with the VICP, including people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to hire an attorney.
VICP Now Pays Compensation in Most Vaccine Injury Claims
The CDC estimates that 300 million doses of vaccines are distributed in the U.S. every year. The VICP gets an average of 500 claims for vaccine-related injures every year, and compensates over 67% of claims — and it is becoming far more common for claims to get paid.
Payouts Are Getting A Lot More Common
In 2015, the VICP paid compensation to only about 25% of vaccine-injury claims, and it took many years before money was ever paid.
But recently, payouts have become dramatically more common. From 2015 through 2019, the VICP paid compensation in 77% of vaccine-injury claims. In 2017, 706 individual claims received a total payout of $252 million — or an average payment of about $357,000 per claim.
$430,000 Average Vaccine Injury Payout in 2017
The VICP paid out an average of $229 million per year from 2013 to 2017, or approximately $430,000 per claim for injuries and attorneys’ fees, according to the program’s public record from May 2019.
What Types of Vaccine Injuries Can Receive Compensation?
The VICP provides a Vaccine Injury Table with a list of each vaccine’s eligible injuries. Some examples include allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), encephalopathy, arthritis, paralytic polio, and more.
In recent years, a growing number of claims have been filed by people who suffered shoulder injuries — Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) — or sudden loss of consciousness (syncope).
Health officials have also determined that influenza vaccines may cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare side effect of the flu shot that can lead to tingling, weakness or even permanent paralysis.