It is not news that vaccinations, although they can be beneficial, cause side effects for some people.
You might be surprised to learn, however, that since 2011, the government has paid about $18 million to 112 “Sirva” victims. “Sirva” means “Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration.” In other words, the contents of the vaccine were not at issue in these claims, it was instead how the vaccine was administered to the person compensated.
Twenty more claims are pending and dozens are being reviewed by lawyers as there are an increasing number of immunizations and more awareness about “Sirva.”
Three women were among those featured in a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article about “Sirva” cases. A 39-year-old registered nurse from Louisiana was awarded $1 million in 2012 based on a “Sirva” injury she claimed resulted from a flu vaccine administered in 2010. A 52-year-old emergency room doctor from Indianapolis received $92,500 in 2014 in a “Sirva” case reported after a flu shot in 2012. A 77-year-old retired housekeeper from Pennsylvania, filed a claim after experiencing excruciating pain following a flu immunization in 2012. She was awarded $75,000 in 2014 after her doctor had told her that her shoulder pain could not be related to receiving the shot.
Who is paying for these vaccine claims?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program which began in 1988 following Congressional passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines and to stabilize vaccine costs. It also was designed to serve as a no-fault compensation alternative to traditional civil litigation. Originally, claims were to be brought by victims or their survivors who alleged they or loved ones had suffered injury or death from the administration of certain compulsory childhood vaccinations.
Currently there are no age restrictions in seeking vaccine compensation. VICP claims can be filed on behalf of infants, children, and adolescents as well as adults. The statute of limitations must be satisfied. This means the claim must be filed within three years from the date of onset of symptoms. If it is a vaccine-related death, a claim must be filed no later than two years from the date of death and within four years of the onset of symptoms.
Three federal government offices have a role in VICP—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The Federal Claims Court has a VICP Office of Special Masters which has two major functions. It manages vaccine cases by collecting information and setting time frames for submission of the information. It also has the function of determining the types of proceedings necessary for presenting the relevant evidence and ultimately weighs the evidence in rendering a final, enforceable decision.
Successful VICP claims are paid for by a Trust Fund set up in 1988, financed by a small excise tax on vaccines. More than half of the 112 claims for faulty vaccine administration were paid during the last year, according to the Journal. Since 1988, $3.2 billion has been paid to claimants for a range of injuries related to vaccinations including those for arthritis, encephalitis and polio. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of HHS, victims compensated represent one of every million inoculations. Later this year, the government plans to add “Sirva” to an official table of vaccine iinjury, HRSA reports.
“Sirva” is generally caused by an injection improperly made too high on the arm. This can injure the musculoskeletal structures of the shoulder causing sudden shoulder pain. Qualifications for compensation, according to HRSA, include:
· Severe persistent shoulder pain that causes prolonged restriction of function
· No history of shoulder pain prior to vaccine administration
· Pain occurring within 48 hours of the injection
· Pain and a reduced range of motion limited to the shoulder where vaccine was given
· Patient must have no other condition to explain the symptoms
· Pain must last at least six months
Important telephone numbers and websites:
To find out more about what vaccines are on the federal Vaccine Injury Table, visit the HHS.gov website. In the large “I’m looking for…” search box at the top of the page, type in Vaccine Injury Table or VICP. You might also want to search for “HRSA/FAQ about vaccines” for frequently asked questions on this topic.
If you wish to contact the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), this is their address and phone number:
Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
Parklawn Building, Room 11C-26
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20867
To contact the U.S. Court of Federal Claims about filing a ”Sirva” claim:
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
717 Madison Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
This article was written by Attorney James W. Slater of the Akron, Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP.
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