What Happens when Vaccines Cause Injuries?

a healthcare worker with a gloved hand puts a bandaid on a child's arm after the child received a vaccination

Vaccines, and the negative side effects thereof, have taken centerstage in recent years.

When Covid-19 swept the globe, concerns over ill effects of the vaccine were rife and many claimed to have been adversely affected by the vaccine. Some alleged severe adverse reactions like heart attacks and even fatalities caused by the vaccine.

Previously unfamiliar words like ‘anti-vaxxer’ became common international language, as most people developed a strong anti- or pro- opinion about the vaccine.

For it or against it, one thing was clear – when it comes to matters of health, people don’t play games.  

Research indicates that concerns over vaccine safety are nothing new and not limited to the Covid-19 vaccine. The Covid-19 vaccine is not the first vaccine which has faced legal scrutiny in court. Makers of Covid 19 vaccines are protected by an act of Congress that specify that, in a public health crisis, manufacturers, distributors, and those carrying out the vaccinations cannot be held legally liable in most cases.

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, vaccines, like any medicine, can cause side effects. However, these are usually not the norm and very mild, says the administration. Still, in rare situations, a vaccine can cause serious problems such as a severe reaction.

The Cutter Incident is one example. It is named after a manufacturer of a polio vaccine which is alleged to have devastated many people’s lives. In an article entitled The History of Vaccines, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia chronicles how, in 1955, as many as 200 people were left paralyzed after receiving the Salk polio vaccine. 

However, at the time, a sound legal framework had yet to be established for asserting in clear legal terms the causal relationship between a vaccine and physically-adverse symptoms.

This legal tightrope of proving a vaccine is responsible for autism or other illness is a tough walk. Even with strong suspicion, the process of proving that a vaccine was the cause of a specific injury is difficult, in the least.

There is a federal compensation program for people who are injured by vaccines. A compensation-focused initiative, called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), has been set up to assist those whose children have been harmed by vaccines to get financial compensation for injury. The guidelines can be found on their website.

VICP-covered vaccines include Diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type b polysaccharide conjugate vaccines, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Human papillomavirus, Seasonal influenza, Measles, Mumps, Meningococcal, Pertussis, Pneumococcal conjugate, Polio, Rotavirus, Rubella, Tetanus and Varicella.

Claims related to the Covid-19 vaccine must be channelled through a special compensation program called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation program.

Whether you are an anti-vaxxer or a pro-vaxxer, what it comes down to is this: vaccines are designed to keep people safe, and should something go wrong when one has a vaccine, there is a need for justice and compensation.