As modern medicine has evolved, vaccines have become an important part of preventative healthcare. By introducing small, weakened strains of a virus, medical professionals can help patients develop immunity. A person with a stronger immune system is less likely to get sick and less likely to spread disease. An effective vaccine can help eradicate a dangerous illness and improve the collective health of a society.
While vaccines may provide key health benefits by lowering the risk of disease and strengthening the immune system, there are some risks associated with their use. Potential side effects include fever, fatigue, soreness, and sweating, but these are relatively minor. More severe reactions causing death or disability are rare, but possible.
When determining whether or not to receive a vaccination, you should consider the benefits of the vaccine and weigh them against the potential complications that may develop. It is impossible to guarantee that a vaccine is completely safe, just as it is impossible to predict whether or not you will experience any negative side effects.
If after receiving a vaccine you do experience harmful side effects, there is a federal program set up to process your claim to compensation. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is run by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which decides whether or not an individual injured by a vaccine will receive compensation for their injuries.
Under the program, there are certain vaccines that are covered and individuals experiencing side effects may file a claim as long as the first symptoms appear within the time limit established by the NVICP. In order to qualify, the following conditions must be met:
- The vaccine must be one that is offered during childhood in order to fall under the program’s jurisdiction; however, the vaccine does not have to have been given during childhood in order to qualify for compensation.
- The vaccine must have been received in U.S. territory or, if administered outside of U.S. territory, it must have been given to a U.S. military or government employee or a dependent.
- If the vaccine was administered outside of U.S. territory and was manufactured by a company in U.S. territory, the injured person must have returned to U.S. territory within six months.
- The vaccine must have caused symptoms that lasted for more than six months, that resulted in a hospital stay and surgery, or that resulted in death.
You may file a claim if you are the person injured by the vaccine, are the parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult injured by the vaccine, or are the authorized representative of a deceased person whose death you believe was caused by a vaccine.
In order for your claim to be considered, you must prove that the injured or deceased person received a vaccine covered by the NVICP and that the vaccine caused symptoms that led to the person’s injury or death. Alternatively, you must prove that the vaccine aggravated an existing condition, causing it to become much more severe.
Should you choose to retain an attorney, you will need one who is authorized to practice in the United States Court of Federal Claims. Elrod Pope’s Jack Leader was admitted May 16th, 2011. If you are denied federal compensation through the program or if federal compensation is not satisfactory, you also have the option to file a law suit against the manufacturer of the vaccine.
For access to information about vaccine injuries or to learn how to file a claim, visit the National Vaccine Informational Center. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job or by the negligence of others, please contact us. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more informative articles and updates.
The author acknowledges Madison McCoy and Walker Cobb for their contributions to this article.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.