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Federal Vaccine Compensation

Published February 9, 2021

VICP & CICP: A Substitute for Traditional Lawsuits

A Substitute for Traditional Lawsuits

Within the first 12 hours after birth, babies receive their first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine. While most people continue to be vaccinated throughout their childhood, others hold concerns over the health risks that stem from vaccines and their ingredients. In instances where severe allergic reactions or other serious problems occur, the National Vaccine Compensation Program comes into play.

In 1988, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to provide compensation for individuals of any age injured by vaccines after the amended National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. This program was the federal government's response to the DPT vaccine's health concerns, which contains an inactive bacterium that causes whooping cough. After many successful lawsuits for suing parties, vaccine companies threatened to cease production, potentially creating a resurgence of whooping cough. Thus, the VICP became a substitute for traditional lawsuits.

The VICP has three main objectives, which are the following: 1) to ensure that there is an appropriate supply of vaccines, 2) that these vaccines have a stable cost, and 3) that there is an accessible method for individuals injured by certain vaccines to claim compensation.

To submit a claim to the VICP, an individual must first file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will then review the petition and decide whether the individual is eligible for compensation. After their determination, the U.S. Department of Justice draws up a report with both medical and legal input for the Court of Federal Claims. After that, a court-appointed special master will review the report and decide compensation for the claimant, if applicable, the amount. The Department of Health and Human Services awards compensation, covering medical and legal expenses, loss of future earnings, and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering.

The COVID-19 vaccine falls under an alternate program - the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)   that provides benefits for individuals who experience a severe physical injury from a countermeasure. A countermeasure is a vaccination recommended to prevent or treat an established pandemic or epidemic. The main difference in the CICP's process is that it utilizes an administrative rather than judicial process. The Department of Health and Human Services will make the ultimate decision on the matter.

For further questions, please refer to the Health Resources & Services Administration's FAQ page or email vaccinecompensation@hrsa.gov.