The Benefits and Costs of Vaccinations

Vaccine program compensates victims

Does the existence of the Vaccine Program indicate that vaccines are unsafe?

Over 6,600 claims have been compensated in the Vaccine Program since its inception, and the correlating payouts have totaled over $4 billion.
— The New York Times

On June 18, 2019, Pam Belluck and Reed Abelson from the New York Times published an article addressing the question of whether the existence of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program signaled that vaccines are unsafe.  The authors begin their article by noting that over 6,600 claims have been compensated in the Vaccine Program since its inception, and the correlating payouts have totaled over $4 billion.

If there is a Vaccine Program and payments are made to individuals who have alleged that their injury is from a vaccine, are vaccines actually safe as the CDC and similar governmental health bodies claim?  

This is the question often raised by the anti-vax movement and supporting politicians.  “If vaccines do not cause injuries, why has the vaccine injury trust fund paid out $4,061,322,557.08 for vaccine injuries?” asked Representative Bill Posey, a Florida Republican, in a letter defending the right of parents to make their own decisions about immunizing their children.  In an era of growing numbers of vaccine exemptions for personal and/or religious reasons, the concern is real that many people and children are opting to forgo vaccines citing risk of injury and efficacy.

Vaccines beneficial to society in disease control

Contrary to this viewpoint, vaccine attorneys and many health organizations are quick to point out that vaccines are beneficial to our society and important for eradicating diseases. Vaccines are pharmaceutical drugs, though, and they are not without their inherent risks. Flu shots are administered nationwide annually and account for the largest number of vaccines manufactured, sold and administered each year. Flu shots are linked to a variety of autoimmune diseases and shoulder injuries. Despite such links to adverse reactions, public health experts point out that the data actually shows evidence of vaccine safety. “The overwhelming number of vaccine injections are completely safe and not associated with any adverse events,” Dr. Meissner said. “This is in marked contrast to what the anti-vaccine movement is trying to promulgate.”  

Chances of contracting disease much more likely than adverse vaccine reaction

The likelihood of someone experiencing a vaccine adverse event is much less than that same person contracting the disease that the vaccine was designed to inoculate against.  For example, the likelihood of serious harm if a person contracts measles is much greater than the chance of being injured from the measles vaccine, data shows. About one of four people who get measles are likely to be hospitalized, and one to two of every 1,000 people who get it are likely to die from the disease, according to the C.D.C. In comparison, claims of harm have been filed for about two out of every million doses of the measles vaccine.

Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

A 1986 law established the compensation fund, financed by a tax paid by vaccine manufacturers of 75 cents per dose. The law acts as a liability shield for drug companies as people claiming injury are required to seek redress first with the vaccine program in the United States Court of Federal Claims and with the Department of Health and Human Services before they can sue a manufacturer. Currently, there is a backlog of about 2,800 cases that need to be resolved, a process that takes an average of two to three years.

Common vaccine injuries

A growing proportion of recent claims, about half of all petitions since 2017, do not involve the content of vaccines themselves. Instead, they refer to shoulder injuries, usually in adults, that occurred because a health provider injected a vaccine too high on the shoulder, or into the joint space instead of into muscle tissue. That may cause an inflammatory response leading to shoulder pain and limited motion.

The other most commonly compensated injury in the Vaccine Program is Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Individuals who have experienced Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) after the flu shot (influenza vaccine), or a shoulder injury after receiving the tetanus (Tdap, Dtap, DPT) or flu shot are more likely to have their case compensated in the Vaccine Court.  

Licensed Vaccine Attorney

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David Carney, Esquire, at the law firm of Green & Schafle LLC, is a skilled vaccine lawyer, licensed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. He has been representing vaccine-injured clients nationwide for the last decade and he is currently the Vice President of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association, the national organization dedicated to the representation of individuals with vaccine injuries.  

If you or someone you know needs a vaccine lawyer, please contact the licensed vaccine lawyers at Green & Schafle LLC.  We have a licensed vaccine lawyer to handle your vaccine injury claim no matter which state you live in.