Vaccine injuries, while rare, are certainly real.
While most were settled and “cannot be characterized as a decision by HHS or by the Court that the vaccine caused an injury,” some of the claims were either compensated by a court decision or by concession and for which “it is more likely than not that the vaccine caused the injury or the evidence supports fulfillment of the criteria of the Vaccine Injury Table.”
History of the Vaccine Injury Table
The Vaccine Injury Table was created by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and includes “a table of vaccines, the injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths resulting from the administration of such vaccines, and the time period in which the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of the significant aggravation of such injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths is to occur after vaccine administration for purposes of receiving compensation under the Program.”
The Vaccine Injury Table:
- “is a listing of covered vaccines and associated injuries,” although some covered vaccines, like Hib, hepatitis A, chicken pox, flu, HPV, Prevnar, and the meningococcal vaccines, are not on the table
- “makes it easier for some people to get compensation,” since if a symptom of a table injury occurs within the time frame of getting a table vaccine, then unless another cause is found, “it is presumed that the vaccine was the cause of the injury”
- “lists and explains injuries and/or conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines,” from anaphylaxis and encephalopathy to thrombocytopenic purpura
- has been modified several times, most notably in 1995 (HHE and seizures from DTP were removed as table injuries and chronic arthritis from rubella was added), 1997 (thrombocytopenia (measles), brachial neuritis (tetanus), and anaphylaxis (hepatitis B) were added as table injuries), and 2002 (intussusception (rotavirus) added as a table injury).
- is typically only modified if an Institute of Medicine report finds scientific evidence that a condition could be caused by a vaccine with guidance of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines
Some people, especially anti-vaccine folks who think it is too hard to get compensated under the NVICP, will be surprised that one of the main overarching guiding principles for making changes to the Vaccine Injury Table is that:
Where there is credible scientific and medical evidence both to support and to reject a proposed change (addition or deletion) to the Table, the change should, whenever possible, be made to the benefit of petitioners.
Guiding Principles for Recommending Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table
Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table were proposed last year.
Off Table Injuries
As you can imagine, since most new vaccines do not have table injuries, the VICP has shifted from Vaccine Injury Table to off-Table claims.
While that may change if last years proposed changes are adopted, off-Table claims can still be compensated, a vaccine is not just presumed as causing an injury in these cases.
For More Information on Table Injuries
- Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines
- Government Accountability Office Report on Vaccine Injury Compensation
- National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program facts
- National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Revisions to the Vaccine Injury Table