By Dr. Mercola
If you or your child were to be seriously injured after receiving a routine US government-recommended vaccination, your only recourse would be to apply to the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Suing the vaccine manufacturer (or the doctor when the vaccine was given negligently) to obtain financial compensation for medical care, pain, and suffering is out of the question, as Congress and the Supreme Court have banned vaccine product liability and vaccine injury malpractice lawsuits in the US.
Instead, vaccine injury claims are awarded or denied by US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) officials using US Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys or adjudicated by “special masters” in the US Court of Federal Claims.
Why Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Was Created
The VICP was created by Congress in 1986 under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act because vaccine manufacturers threatened to stop producing vaccines if they weren’t protected from vaccine injury lawsuits.
It was created as an alternative to a civil court lawsuit, giving partial liability protection to vaccine manufacturers, pediatricians, and other vaccine providers from civil liability for injuries and deaths caused by federally recommended childhood vaccines.1
If the injured party was denied compensation or dissatisfied with the amount of the award, they could then proceed with a civil lawsuit with certain restrictions, depending upon the case.
Unhappy with this partial liability protection, drug companies kept pushing for complete liability protection and, in 2011, convinced the US Supreme Court majority to rule that federally licensed and recommended vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and that the VICP should be the “sole remedy” for all vaccine injury claims.2
I think it’s worth repeating, in case you just glossed over it: The reason you cannot sue a vaccine manufacturer for injury or death is because vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.”
This also means that even if it can be proven that a government recommended vaccine that injured or killed someone in America was defectively designed and could have been made less reactive, no one can sue the drug company in question.3
Funds for the VICP come from a 75 cent fee added to the cost of every dose of vaccine (so the combination MMR vaccine has a $2.25 fee tacked on to it because that shot contains three vaccines).
In effect, Congress gave the pharmaceutical industry a free ride when it comes to drug companies having any financial accountability for the safety of vaccines they sell, and vaccine users and US taxpayers are the ones paying for this program.
This is because the federal government is the biggest purchaser of vaccines provided in public health clinics. When everything is said and done, vaccine manufacturers have virtually no incentive whatsoever to ensure the safety and effectiveness of vaccines that are recommended by federal health officials and mandated by state health officials.
Feds Vow to Publicize Vaccine Injuries Claim Program
Unfortunately, while the VICP was originally set up to give vaccine-injured Americans an expedited, non-adversarial, less expensive administrative alternative to a civil court lawsuit, the process usually only adds more suffering.
Many vaccine victims are left waiting without support and financial assistance for years on end, while their case snakes its way through the red tape. Some VICP claimants even say they felt “attacked” by the government that was supposed to help them.
Another problem has been a lack of public awareness that this program even exists. Reportedly, federal officials operating the VICP have now vowed to publicize the program better,4 promising improvements in its literature to make it easier to understand, and improvements to its website.
They’ve also stated they will seek to increase awareness among health care providers, parents and expectant parents, older adults, Spanish speaking adults, as well as civil litigation and plaintiff’s attorneys.
What actually happens remains to be seen. Several years ago, a comprehensive consultant report about publicizing the VICP was created at a cost of $300,000.5 Few recommendations were ever implemented however. At present, less than $20,000 of the VICP’s $6.5 million annual budget is spent on public outreach.
Moreover, VICP directors didn’t begin taking action on publicity until after a congressionally requested Government Accountability Office (GAO) inquiry began earlier this year. Public outreach has also been largely ignored since the program’s inception. A direct quote from the book, The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program reads:
“One of the most OVERLOOKED provisions of the act was the requirement that the HHS Secretary conduct public awareness and outreach programs to inform the general public about the program and the eligibility to file a claim for either a vaccine-related injury or death. …This provision has been greatly ignored by the HHS Secretary.”
The Associated Press6 also claims it found evidence suggesting that “the government seems intent on keeping the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s public profile low.”
Judge Warns Publicity May Further Exacerbate Process Delays
The judge who oversees the special vaccine court in the US Court of Federal Claims warns that greater publicity may result in a greater number of filings, which means the process may take even longer than it already does.
As noted in a recent article by Insurance Journal,7 compensation through the VICP can be painfully slow—at times stretching out over a decade—and that’s if your case is even approved for compensation. Most aren’t. According to the Associated Press:8
“Overall, the government says it distributed $2.8 billion [from 1988] through March 2014. In recent years, the program has received more than 400 claims annually.
Claims are supposed to be resolved within 240 days, with options for another 150 days of extensions. But between the court's opening in 1988 and the end of 2012, less than 7 percent of 7,876 cases not including those claiming a vaccine caused the developmental disability autism met the 240-day target...
Hundreds have surpassed the decade mark. Several people died before getting any money.”
Vaccine Injury Denialists Object to Publicizing Reality of Vaccine Injuries
Another concern among vaccine proponents is that increased publicity around the compensation program may be “misinterpreted” as a public message that vaccines can cause harm, which might dissuade people from vaccinating.
Well, the truth is vaccines can cause harm. The fact that the VICP has kept such a low profile for this long means that most people have no idea that billions of dollars have in fact been paid out to vaccine injured individuals. This is the truth, and however people want to interpret that, it deserves to be widely known that vaccine injuries can and do occur.
Unfortunately, some legal experts still vehemently deny the reality of vaccine injuries and are working overtime to remove the ability for parents to make informed vaccine decisions for their children. For example, UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss has been quite vocal in her opposition to changes in the VICP that would allow more vaccine injured children to be compensated.9
She’s also advocating for the elimination of vaccine exemptions and has, in fact, been using her position to claim that there is no evidence vaccines cause harm, and that parents refusing to give their children all government recommended vaccines should be held criminally liable for deaths causes by infectious diseases.10 Journalists are also being manipulated into only reporting information about vaccines that the CDC, FDA, and other government agencies give them, which clearly adds to the lack of transparency on questions about vaccine safety.
According to a July 16 issue of the Nieman Reports,11 “Public health reporters say federal agencies are restricting access and information, limiting their ability to cover crucial health issues.” Fed up with the perceived censorship, a group of journalists have formed a new organization called Stop the New American Censorship12 to raise awareness about this problem. Even students are being blackmailed into not reporting the truth about vaccine injuries. If they write about it, they can get charged with academic misconduct, as evidenced by this recent report13 about a Master of Science student in Australia who wrote a thesis giving evidence for the fact that the whooping cough vaccine isn’t working.
Adult Flu Vaccine Injuries Dominate VICP Claims
According to the GAO’s report, while the VICP was established to assist children injured by government-recommended childhood vaccines, most claims are now filed by adults suffering vaccine injury after receiving influenza vaccine. The flu vaccine was added to the VICP in 2005.14 Most cases involve adults developing Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)—a crippling condition in which your immune system attacks your nerves. GBS has been a known side effect of influenza vaccines for nearly 40 years.
According to the book, The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the swine flu vaccine program was cut short in 1976 when it became clear that the swine flu vaccine was associated with serious neurological side effects such as GBS and transverse myelitis. Congress also passed the “Swine Flu Act” that same year, which transferred liability for vaccine injuries associated with the swine flu vaccine from the vaccine manufacturers to the federal government. Some influenza vaccines, including the adult high-dose flu vaccine for seniors sold under the name Fluzone, also list GBS as a potential side effect in its package insert.15
All Vaccines Carry Risks
It's important to understand that ALL vaccines carry a risk for provoking an immediate acute adverse reaction, such as anaphylactic shock, fainting, or having a seizure, which could be truly life threatening if you're driving a car or crossing a street after you have left the store where you got vaccinated, for example. Further, vaccines can impair and alter immune system responses and can also cause brain inflammation (encephalitis or encephalopathy) that may lead to permanent brain damage.
In addition, as Institute of Medicine Committees have pointed out in published reports, some individuals are more susceptible to suffering harm from vaccines because of biological, genetic, and environmental risk factors but, most of the time, doctors cannot predict who will be harmed because there are few scientific studies that have evaluated vaccine risks for individuals.16 Here are just some of the ways vaccines can impair or alter immune responses and brain function:
- Some components in vaccines are neurotoxic, including heavy metals such as mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants; residual toxins like endotoxin and bioactive pertussis toxin; and chemicals like formaldehyde and phenooxyethanol.
- The lab-altered and genetically engineered viruses and bacteria in vaccines may impair immune responses and do not stimulate the same kind of immunity that occurs when the body responds to an infectious disease
- Foreign DNA/RNA from human, animal and insect cell substrates used to produce vaccines may trigger serious health problems for some people
- Vaccines may alter your T-cell function and lead to chronic illness
- Vaccines can trigger allergies by introducing large foreign protein molecules into your body that have not been properly broken down by your digestive tract (since they are injected). Your body can have an allergic reaction to these foreign particles
In the video below, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), interviews a Connecticut artist and her mother, a former professor of nursing, who developed GBS after getting a seasonal flu shot in 2008. She became permanently disabled with total body paralysis.
It’s really important to understand what influenza and flu shot risks are, so that you can ask yourself, “Does my (or my child’s) risk of getting influenza and developing complications outweigh the risks of getting a flu shot and developing complications?” In the end, it is up to you to become fully informed about all risks and make informed vaccine and other health care decisions for yourself or your child if you are a parent.
New Changes to VAERS
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also proposing changes to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Public comments are accepted until January 23, 2015.17 In recent years VAERS has received about 30,000 vaccine-injury reports annually. The suggested changes to the VAERS reporting form are intended to “improve reporting efficiency and data quality.” Significant changes include:
- A special box for military-related vaccine injuries
- The addition of check-boxes to indicate more specifically the location where the person was vaccinated (e.g., nursing home, pharmacy, school health clinic, etc.)
- Boxes to report pre-existing conditions the person may have had prior to vaccination, such as allergies, other illnesses, and long-standing chronic health conditions
- A box to list any over-the-counter and prescription drugs the person was on, as well as a list of dietary supplements or herbal remedies they may have been taking
VAERS is another critical resource that has not been given due publicity or attention. In 1999, FDA Commissioner David Kessler, MD wrote in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that physicians failed to report up to 99 percent of all serious adverse reactions to vaccines and medications,18 and it still remains that way today. At best, a maximum of 10 percent of adverse reactions are ever reported. At present, the VAERS database19 lists 8,000 different adverse vaccine reactions, from localized swelling and anaphylactic shock to autism, coma, and death.20
According to Dr. Kessler, physicians should report when there is a suspicion that the drug may be related to a serious event; they do NOT have to establish the connection or wait for more compelling evidence. Unfortunately, most doctors today are pressured by public health officials and medical trade organizations to push vaccines and consider preventing disease through vaccines to be a primary goal of their profession.21 Some doctors go so far as to “fire” patients who refuse to get every government recommended vaccine even when patients report they have suffered reactions after previous vaccinations! If doctors would instead actively look for and report serious adverse health outcomes following vaccination, including hospitalizations, injuries and deaths, instead of dismissing them as a “coincidence,” it could go a long way toward building a clinical evidence base that will reveal the whole truth about vaccine risks.