Defects in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is jointly administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the US Court of federal Claims (the Court) and the US Department of Justice. The location of VICP is in HHS, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Healthcare Systems Bureau, and Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation.

An individual claiming a vaccine related injury or death files a petition of compensation with the Court, and may be represented by a lawyer. The Vaccine Injury Table makes it easier for some people to get compensation. The Table lists and explains injuries and conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines. If an injury or condition is not on the Table or if it did not occur within the time period on the Table, the petitioner must prove that the vaccine caused the injury or condition. Such proof must be based on medical records or opinion, which may include expert witness testimony. [1]

The basic motive of the program was to generously pay for a medical compensation when a vaccine to prevent infections caused health complications and harm to the people. The system has not been working. Furthermore, it has resulted in additional sufferings to various families.

In a case of Jacunski v. Sec’y of HHS[2], the United States Court of Federal Claims held that petitioner was not entitled to an award under the Vaccine Act because her claim that her chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) was aggravated by her influenza vaccines was not sufficiently supported for two reasons: (1) While petitioner’s expert based his causation opinion on an assumption that petitioner experienced two separate exacerbations, one immediately after each vaccination, that factual assumption was contradicted by medical records showing that the only significant exacerbation of petitioner’s CIDP symptoms actually occurred long after her first influenza vaccination, and well before she received her second influenza vaccination; (2) Petitioner’s expert failed to provide any significant support for his theory that the influenza vaccine could cause an aggravation of CIDP.

Many claims like the one mentioned above conclude with no results. Where a vaccine recipient has suffered an injury not of the type covered in the Vaccine Injury Table, the petitioner may gain an award by showing that the recipient’s injury was “caused-in-fact” by the vaccination in question. Under that standard, the petitioner must show that it is more probable than not that the vaccination was the cause of the injury. The petitioner need not show that the vaccination was the sole cause or even the predominant cause of the injury or condition, but must demonstrate that the vaccination was at least a “substantial factor” in causing the condition, and was a “but for” cause.

[2] 2014 U.S. Claims LEXIS 1097

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