What Is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

One of the advantages of being a part of the twenty-first century is having access to the most advanced medical technology in human history. Advances in medicine has led to the eradication of several deadly illnesses, mainly through the form of vaccines.  Though vaccinations are helpful in warding off fatal illnesses that once caused epidemics- such as measles, tuberculosis, and more – they still come with risks of side effects that often go unmentioned. When vaccine injuries do happen, there could be several factors that go into play. Whether it be an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself or a rare reaction to a certain drug, vaccine injuries can sometimes happen. So what happens when they do?

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) provides vaccination users a no-fault system in which they can file a petition addressing possible reactions caused by vaccination. Even if investigation does not ultimately deem the vaccination as a cause of the claimant’s reactions, they still may receive compensation via settlement.

The government established VICP in the 1980’s during a period of where the public filed many lawsuits against vaccine companies and/or their associated health care providers. This uproar could have resulted in vaccine shortages and the reemergence of illnesses that vaccination previously eradicated in the U.S. VICP offered individuals of any age the right to file a claim with the Federal Court of Claims to address potential vaccine-related injuries.

Vaccines covered through VICP include:

Steps Involved in Making a Claim with VICP

VICP involves a straightforward process initiated within the U.S. Federal Court of Claims:

  • The affected individual, caregiver, or legal representative must file a petition with the Court.
  • Medical staff appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviews the petition. This step determines whether the petition meets the medical criteria necessary for compensation. Depending on their review, the medical staff recommends or dismisses the petition.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice creates a report for the Court to review. This report includes the previous medical recommendation and a legal analysis of the case.
  • A court-appointed “special master” reviews the report, making the final decision in granting the claimant compensation, including how much money the compensation awards. This decision typically occurs after a hearing where both parties present their evidence.
  • According to the special master’s decision, the Court orders the Department of Health to award the petitioner their compensation. Even if the Court dismisses a claimant’s petition, if their case satisfies certain criteria, the Court might order the Department of Health to pay off their legal fees.

Claimants with dismissed petitions can file a claim against the vaccine company or their health provider in civil court.

Minnesota Vaccine Requirements

Minnesota established state-wide vaccination laws dictating their immunization requirements for residents:

  • Children over two months must receive vaccinations before enrolling in school and/or any child-care facility.
  • School-aged children must maintain an age-relevant schedule of immunization their enrollment.
  • College-aged individuals must maintain a relevant schedule of immunizations, furnishing their past immunization records to the institution.

Minnesota school systems requires parents to vaccinate their children under ordinary circumstances.

Certain exceptions apply:

  • There is no requirement for the pertussis shot in children over 7 who were not previously vaccinated.
  • Children/college-aged students with doctor notes indicating medical reasons for not receiving a vaccination are exempt.
  • There is no requirement for the Hemophilus Influenza Type B shot in children over 5 who were not previously vaccinated.
  • Children/college-aged students enrolled in online programs are exempt.
  • College-aged students who have proven immunity are exempt.

Vaccinations are mandatory for all students enrolled in Minnesota-based schools. Though there are some exceptions, all individuals are subject to these vaccination laws. If you have questions or suspect whether you’ve been a victim of a vaccine injury in Minnesota, contact Knutson + Casey today to discuss the details of your case with an experienced attorney. We can help you