Everything You Should Know About Vaccine Injuries

Everything You Should Know About Vaccine Injuries

Vaccines are an emotive subject.

There are passionate and vocal voices on both sides of the vaccine issue. Often when passions rise, the facts seem to diminish.

Yet vaccination is such a serious issue that we cannot afford to let them get lost amid the fabric of emotion.

In this definitive article, we focus on the facts regarding vaccine injuries.

We’ll provide an overview of the National Vaccine Immunization Compensation Program (NVICP), identify the types of vaccine injuries and provide a step by step guide on what to do if your child suffers a vaccine injury. 

What Is The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act

National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act Shirt

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act is a piece of US legislation that was signed into law in 1986.

Its main purpose was to reduce the financial liability of vaccine manufacturers in the case of an injury claim in order to ensure that a steady supply of vaccine was maintained. 

In the mid-1980s a number of costly lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers caused many of them to withdraw from the vaccine manufacture business.

This led to a dangerous shortage of vaccine throughout the country.

For example, the number of measles vaccine manufacturers dropped from six to one and those making a polio vaccine from three to one. 

Realizing that the US might soon be denied lifesaving vaccines, the federal government stepped in.

On October 18th, 1986 Congress passed a bill that protected vaccine makers. This was the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

A month later, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law.

The Act made provision for the Vaccine Immune Compensation Program (VICP). This included a list of compensable injuries possibly caused by vaccines. 

The Act was designed to make things easier for parents by specifying awards for lost earnings, lawyers’ fees and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering.

The purpose of the Act was to allow children to be compensated for vaccine damages without having to go through the expensive process of suing in state courts.

It was also intended to protect pharmaceutical companies from litigation and to encourage vaccine makers to continue to research and produce new vaccines.

The government took the burden of legislation off the backs of the vaccine makers and onto its own. 

The Act achieved its main goals. In 1986, the year of the bill’s passage, there were 255 lawsuits filed against DTP-vaccine manufacturers.

Ten years later, in 1996, there were just six filed.

The act also succeeded in providing a mechanism to inform parents about vaccine safety, a system to independently review vaccines, and the means to report suspected side effects through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

What Are The Provisions Of The NCVIA?

Money And Gavel

There are three provisions in the Act:

Vaccine Adverse Event Recording System (VAERS)

All health care providers must report any adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Events Recording System.

Members of the public are also encouraged to report any adverse events on the VAERS website.

A committee from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review the literature of adverse vaccine events. 

National Vaccines Programs Office

The National Vaccines Programs Ofice was established by the act.

It is responsible for coordinating immunization related activities between all of the agencies of the Department of Human Health Services (DHHS). 

Vaccine Information Statements

The act requires that all health care providers who administer the following vaccines must provide a vaccine information sheet to the recipient of the vaccine and their parent or guardian prior to administering the vaccine:

  • Diptheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIB
  • Varicella

The Vaccine Information Sheet must provide s description of the disease, along with the risks and benefits of the vaccine. The information sheets are produced by the CDC. 

NVICP Claim Statistics

Illustration Of Report

Since 1998, there have been around 18,000 petitions for compensation filed with the NVICP. Of these, around 16,000 have been adjudicated.

Some five thousand of these claims were judged to be compensable, with the balance being dismissed.

The total amount of compensation paid out over the thirty-year history of the act is $4.2 billion

CDC records tell us that, between 2006 and 2014 there were more than 2.5 billion doses of vaccine were administered in the United States.

During that same time period, 3, 672 petitions were adjudicated by the vaccine court. 32,310 of these were awarded by the court.

That works out to one person being compensated for every one million vaccine administrations. 

What Does It Mean To Be Awarded Compensation?

The fact a claimant is awarded compensation does not automatically mean that the vaccine caused the injury event.

In excess of 80 percent of claims is the result of a negotiated settlement. In most of these negotiated cases, the HHS has not determined that the vaccine caused the injury event. 

It should be noted that, according to the act, attorneys who represent a claimant to the Vaccine Court, may not charge fees to the client.

Reasonable attorney fees will be paid directly by the VICP. 

What Could Lead To A Negotiated Settlement?

The following factors could lead the parties to a negotiated settlement:

  • Prior claims decisions
  • Wanting to minimize the time and expense of litigation
  • The desire to get a quick settlement

What Is The Burden Of Proof In A Vaccine Case?

The burden of proof that the claimant must satisfy in order to win their case is the preponderance of the evidence.

In the vaccine court, this burden is met with a three-prong test. The three prongs are as follows:

  • a medical theory causally connecting the vaccination and the injury;
  • a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the vaccination was the reason for the injury
  • a showing of a proximate temporal relationship between vaccination and injury.

In addition to establishing the three proofs above, the petitioner must also establish that there is no other biologically plausible explanation for the injury. 

How Safe are Vaccines?

Two Bootles Of Vaccine

The answer to the question of how safe vaccine is depended to who you listen to.

Anti-vaccine advocates claim that there are real dangers involved with allowing your child to be vaccinated, while those on the vaccine is good side state categorically that there is absolutely no risk involved

Let’s consider the facts.

In the United States, potential vaccines have to go through extensive safety testing before they can be approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for release onto the market.

And once, they are on the market there are a number of monitoring procedures to keep a watchful eye on them. 

Vaccines do come with a small risk of side effects. However, these are rarely serious.

The CDC hs determined the risk-benefit ratio of the vaccines currently on the market is overwhelmingly weighted in favor of the vaccine being on the market.

Here are some statistics upon which they base that claim:

  • In the past twenty years, childhood vaccines have saved the lives of 732,000 children in the United States. During the same period, they have prevented 300 million children from getting sick.
  • Almost 90 percent of side effects from vaccines are not serious.
  • There have been more than 20 credible peer-reviewed scientific studies that have concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. 
  • The original study which did show a link between MMR and autism has been discredited and retracted.
  • The MMR vaccine can cause children to have a  fever, with some going on to have a seizure. The reported incidence this according to CDC figures, is one in 3-4,000 cases of vaccination.
  • One in ten children who get measles develops an ear infection which may result in permanent hearing loss. 
  • A Rotavirus vaccine called RotaTeq has been linked to the development of a serious intestinal disorder, but the incidence is one in 65,000 cases of vaccination. 
  • In  2012 study involving the HPV virus Gardasil, 24 girls out of every 1,000 fainted out of a total study population of 200,000.
  • Since being introduced in 2006, HPV vaccination reduced the rate of HPV infection among teenage girls by 56%.
  • Studies have shown that approximately 3 percent of children who get the chickenpox vaccine has mild chicken-pox like a rash of between two and five lesions the day after vaccination. This compares to between 200-250 lesions for those who get the chickenpox virus. 
  • A 2012 study showed that the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine has reduced the rate of infection in the United States by 80%.

Types of Vaccine Injuries

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)

Neurology Disease

ADEM is a rare type of inflammation that affects the brain and spinal cord.

It damages the protective coating of nerve fibers called myelin. This condition mostly affects children under the age of 10

Associated vaccines

Flu vaccine, Gardasil, Menactra Vaccine, Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and the Hepatitis B Vaccine.

Symptoms

Vision problems, fever, headache, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma

Encephalitis

Encephalitis is swelling of the brain. A virus or bacteria travels through the spinal cord, causing inflammation.

Over the past 30 years, there have been 1,122 cases of encephalitis (including brain stem encephalitis) reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).  

Associated Vaccines

MMR, DTP, DTaP, influenza vaccine

Symptoms

Inflammation of the extremities, fever, fatigue, headache, weakness, achy muscles and joints, seizures, hallucinations

Anaphylaxis

Woman Scratching Her Neck

Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction. It usually occurs within a few minutes a few hours of exposure to the antigen substance.

Death can occur as a result of airway obstruction or spasm of the bronchial passages. If treated with epinephrine, it can be brought under control. 

Associated Vaccines

MMR, DTaP, DTP, DT, Td, or TT, Chickenpox, 

Symptoms

Anaphylaxis occurs quickly and involves multiple reactions in different systems of the body.

These will usually include respiratory problems, skin reactions, cardiovascular effects, and gastrointestinal problems.

The most common symptoms include trouble breathing, swelling of the tongue, coughing floppy limbs, elevated heart rate, and floppy limbs. 

Brachial Neuritis

Brachial neuritis is a swelling and inflammation of nerve bundles that send signals from the spine to the arm.

It causes severe pain and burning in the arm and shoulder. This pain goes away and is replaced by weakness and loss of muscle tissue. 

Associated Vaccines

Tetanus, Influenza, Hepatitis B

Symptoms

Symptoms are delayed. They include pin in the arms and shoulder accompanied by severe burning.

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

Holding For Hand

CIDP is a condition that sees the body’s immune system turning on attacking the peripheral nerves.

This results in weakness and eventual paralysis of the extremities. CIDP is classified as an autoimmune disease.

The immune system eats away at the myelin sheath which covers and protects the nerves.

Associated Vaccines

The flu shot, Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus Shot (DTaP), Hepatitis B Vaccine, MMR

Symptoms

Fatigue, loss of reflexes, tingling of the extremities, numbness, aching muscle pain, weakness, paralysis                       

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) & Flu Vaccine

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system damages the nervous system.

This can result in weakened muscles and, in extreme cases, in paralysis. The condition can remain for anything from six months to two years.         

Associated Vaccines

Trouble chewing, Breathing problems, Rapid heart rate, Problems with balance

Symptoms

Flu Vaccine, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, MCV4

Kawasaki Disease

Showing Tongue

Kawasaki Disease leads to arterial swelling which can lead to a heart attack. It is most frequent in children under the age of five.

At the outset, it attacks the skin, mouth and lymph nodes. Researchers do not know what causes the disease.

However, it has been associated with certain vaccines, with symptoms appearing as much as 28 days after vaccination. 

Associated Vaccines

RotaTeq, Pediarix, Prevnar 13

Symptoms

Five days of fever, rash, peeling skin, redness in eyes, dry lips, swollen tongue, sore throat, swollen hands and feet, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain.

SIRVA

SIRVA stands for shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. It usually occurs when the shoulder is too high or too deep.

However, it can also happen when the vaccine is properly injected.

It can cause intense pain and may lead to more severe should complaints such as adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder syndrome. 

SIRVA may be the result of an adverse reaction by a part of the immune system to one or more of the components of the vaccine.

It can also result due to an injury to the muscles of the shoulder during the injection. 

Associated Vaccines

SIRVA may be caused by any vaccine. However, it is most commonly associated with the seasonal flu shot. This may simply be because it is the most commonly administered vaccine. 

Symptoms

Persistent shoulder pain, Limited range of motion, frozen shoulder, shoulder tendonitis, rotator cuff tear,  shoulder bursitis.

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Illustration Of Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic condition that sees the immune system of the body turning on and attacking the liver cells.

This can lead to inflammation and liver damage. If not treated, the condition can result in permanent liver scarring, liver cancer or complete liver failure.

Associated Vaccines

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Humaan Papillomavirus Reconbinanat Vaccine (HPV4), Influenz (H1N1), MMR, Pneumococcal Vaccine (PPV).

Symptoms

Jaundice, joint pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, rash/acne, unexplained weight loss.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition in which the nervous system malfunctions. The result is long-lasting severe pain in the hands, legs, arms, and feet. 

Associated Vaccines

Hepatitis B, HPV, Influenza A (H1N1)

Symptoms

Burning in the extremities, pins, and needles, extreme pain from light contact, change in skin color, shiny skin, muscle spasms, swelling sweating, stiffness.

Bell’s Palsy

Bells Palsy Syndrome

Bell’s Palsy causes half of the facial muscles to become weak and droopy. It is believed to be caused by inflamed nerves or viral infections. 

Associated Vaccines

H1N1 Swine Flu, Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Hepatitis B Vaccine, Seasaonal Inlfleunza Vaccine, Garadsil Vaccine, Nasaflu Vaccine.

Symptoms

Difficulty making facial expressions, drooping of one side of the face, difficulty closing eyes, drooling, headaches, loss of taste sensation, high sensitivity to sound.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a condition in which the body stops producing enough blood cells. The result of this is uncontrolled bleeding and frequent infections.

The condition can, in the most extreme cases, be life-threatening. Researchers consider this to be a bone marrow disorder as blood cells are formed in the bone marrow. 

Associated Vaccines

Varicella (chickenpox), Prevnar, Influenza

Symptoms

Constant fatigue, pale skin, headache, skin rash, dizziness, shortness of breath, longer-lasting infections, frequent bruising, increased pulse rate, excessive bleeding.

Pemphigus

Syndrome On Backs

Pemphigus describes a group of autoimmune diseases that result in painful blisters.

Associated Vaccines

Hepatitis B, flu shot.

Symptoms

Blisters, uncontrollable itching, burning and stinging.

Syncope

Syncope refers to the phenomenon of fainting after a vaccine. Eighty percent of the time, fainting will occur within fifteen minutes of receiving the injection. 

Associated Vaccines

Fainting may occur after the injection of any vaccine.

Symptoms

Fainting within 15 minutes of receiving an injection. 

Does The MMR Vaccine Cause Autism?

Vaccine In Bottle

The consensus of scientific evidence tells us that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

Over the years, anti-vaccine advocates have proclaimed loudly that an ingredient in the MMR vaccine called Thimerosal causes autism.

Thimerosal metabolizes in the body into ethylmercury. Because methylmercury has been shown to be toxic, it was assumed that ethylmercury would also be toxic.

As a result, the early anti-vaccine movement focused on this compound.

In 2004, a group of researchers, including one from the CDC, analyzed twelve studies to look at the possible link between thimerosal and autistic spectrum disorders.

This type of review is called a meta-analysis. It is an effective way for outside researchers to take a look at a lot of studies that all covered the same ground.

The reviewers can then pull the scientifically valid results together to look for patterns.

The researchers in the 2004 meta-analysis looked at ten studies comparing rates of the disorders and the presence of thimerosal in vaccines.

These types of studies are known as epidemiological studies.

The other two studies were pharmacokinetic, meaning those studies looked at the levels of thimerosal in the body after children received vaccines containing the substance.

The 2004 meta-analysis showed that four studies supported an association between thimerosal and autistic spectrum disorders.

All four of those studies were performed by the same research team. These were a father and son named David and Mark Geier.

David And Mark Geir

Their data and research were considered too methodologically flawed to be considered valid.

The remaining eight scientifically valid studies indicated no evidence of a link between the presence of thimerosal in vaccines and the rate of autistic spectrum disorder. 

There have been many other studies that have found no causal link between thimerosal and autism. Studies of vaccines without thimerosal have also found no links.

In a typical study, Danish researchers looked at the vaccination records of all children born in Denmark between jnury1991 and December 1998.

They were able to obtain medical records for a total of 537,303 children. Of that number, 440,665 had received the MMR vaccine.

There was no difference seen in the rates of autism between the children who received the vaccine and the children who did not. 

There are a huge number of studies into a potential link between vaccines and autistic spectrum disorders have been carried out in countries all over the world.

They were performed by researchers from universities, hospitals, and government departments. The researchers considered all sorts of variables.

All of the research designs were methodologically sound and valid. None of them has been retracted or found to be flawed or invalid.

Yet the overwhelming pattern of results shows no link between vaccines and autism.

Does The Hepatitis B Vaccine Cause SIDS?

Marking Word SIDS

Babies are given the Hep B vaccine shortly after birth to prevent them from getting hepatitis.

In young children, this virus causes all manner of terrible effects. In many cases, liver failure will result.

This is because babies are unable to clear the infection as efficicently as adults or older children.

Many critics claim that it is unnecessary to vaccinate babies against hepatitis.

Others claim that the vaccine can cause babies to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

This is when the infant suddenly dies during the night without any sudden cause. For decades there has been controversy over what causes SIDS.

The current wisdom says that the best way to prevent SIDS is to lay the baby on its back when sleeping. Doing so has led to a huge reduction in SIDS cases over the last decade.

The use of the Hepatitis B vaccine has been correlated with an increase in the number of SIDS cases.

In 1992, for example, only 8 percent of all infants were given the Hepatitis B vaccine. 1992 was the first year that the vaccine was recommended to all parents.

During that year, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported 4,800 SIDS deaths. By 1996, vaccine usage had increased to 82 percent of all babies.

If the Hepatitis B vaccine really was a risk factor for SIDS, you would expect to see a corresponding increase in the number of SIDS deaths.

Yet the number of SIDS deaths actually fell to 3,000 during that year. Similar numbers have been reported since the vaccine has been in use.

The number of SIDS cases fluctuates from year to year without any correlation to the rate of Hepatitis B vaccination. 

What Should You Do When Your Kid Suffers One Of More Vaccine Injuries?

Giving Baby A Vaccine

If you suspect that your child is experiencing side effects from their vaccine hot, you should immediately seek medical help.

If the symptoms are severe, you should call emergency services. In less severe cases visit the emergency department of your local hospital or your general practitioner. 

Your general practitioner will file a report with VAERS. You should also go to the VAERS website and complete a report. You can do this on the VAERS website.

To determine whether our child’s injury or illness is related to their vaccine, consider the following questions:

  • Has your child had this vaccine before without the side effects?
  • Did the symptoms appear within a day of the vaccine being administered?  
  • What other symptoms does the child have?
  • Are any other children who had the vaccine similarly affected?

What Is The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a program that was established under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

It provides a user-friendly means by which individuals can seek financial compensation for claimed injury from a vaccine that is covered by the VICP. 

The Vaccine Injury Table lists all of the vaccines that are covered by the program. 

There are no age restrictions on who can file a claim under the program. 

The objectives of the VICP are to:

  •  Ensure an adequate supply of vaccines
  • Stabilize vaccine costs
  • Maintain and accessible and easy to negotiate forum for injured parties to receive compensation

The 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 made the following amendments to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986:

  • The VICP coverage was expanded to include vaccines that were not previously covered. 
  • It clarified that claims may be filed by women receiving covered vaccines during pregnancy and with respect to children who were in utero at the time that the vaccine was administered. 

The VICP is administered by the Division of Injury Compensation Programs, Healthcare Systems Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

How Do I File A Claim With The VICP?

Showing Chart

In order to receive compensation under the program, you must first file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

This legal document can be completed by the individual or they can retain the services of a lawyer to guide them through the application process.

All legal fees will be met by the state. We recommend hiring a lawyer.

The original and two copies of your completed petition should be set to the following address:

Clerk

U.S. Court of Federal Claims

717 Madison Place NW

Washington, DC 20439

You should also include all relevant medical records and any other requested documentation.

The Court of Federal Claims has provided a thorough guide to the application process which you can find here

What Is The Average Compensation? 

The average compensation awarded for VICP cases in 2018 was $115,000.

According to figures released by vaccine attorney Leah Durant, the highest award to a client in 2018 was $545,000, with the lowest payment being $42,892.

One-third of her clients received $100,000, with around 10 percent receiving in excess of $200,000. The median amount awarded in 2018 was $80,000.

Conclusion

Vaccines save millions of lives every year.

They also prevent a whole host of serious virus side effects. However, vaccines can also cause injury.

Even though the rate of injury compared to vaccination is minimal, thousands of people every year in the US are affected by vaccine injuries.

The Vaccine Immune Compensation Program (VICP) provides a user-friendly way for people who suffer from a vaccine injury to seek compensation.

In this article, we have provided an overview of that process, as well as summarizing the main vaccine injuries associated with the vaccine in the CDC schedule.

We hope that this information has given you the confidence you need to make wise decisions regarding a vaccination – and to make a claim to the VICP in the rare event that you or a loved one does suffer an injury event from a vaccine.

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