Vaccinations have been hailed as one of the greatest medical inventions of all time. When Jonas Salk created the vaccine for Polio, it was considered a miracle. The vaccination for smallpox before that was crude, but effective. The process, while still crude and safety testing even more crude, the vaccination for whooping cough, later combined with those for diphtheria and tetanus and then one for measles, mumps and rubella, effectively eradicated these diseases by creating what we all now know as “herd immunity.”
However, every vaccination, like every medication, has risks to the recipient that are unpredictable as to who will suffer them. Still, the government and some employers, in the past and now in the present have encouraged or even required vaccination for a variety of reasons. Such has been the case with the vaccines developed to fight back the Covid pandemic, both from an effort toward eradication and achieving herd immunity.
Two federal programs offer relief to those few individuals who are injured because of vaccination:
- The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
- The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)
These federal programs provide funds to help compensate the limited number of individuals injured by vaccinations. The VICP provides compensation for injuries by vaccines that are specifically listed. The CICP covers other federally required vaccinations or treatment during a pandemic.
COVID vaccine injuries are currently covered under the CICP program. Although reclassification of the COVID vaccine to the NVIC may occur, presently the only recourse for individuals injured by COVID vaccination is under the CICP. Here is a comparison chart of the two programs Comparison of Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) | Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (hrsa.gov)
What is the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program?
The United States Health Resources and Services Administration administers the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program which provides benefits for those who were injured from a covered “countermeasure” during a pandemic or security threat. The COVID vaccine is considered a countermeasure and currently covered under this program. Benefits are generally available to those who suffer serious physical injuries or death and are limited to unreimbursed medical items or services used to treat a covered countermeasure injury which are reasonable and necessary, and not fully paid or reimbursed by insurance or government programs such as Medicaid or Veterans Benefits. Benefits may also include lost income, if you were unable to work for more than 5 days because of a covered countermeasure injury.
If an individual injured as a result of a covered countermeasure dies (regardless of cause of death) before CICP has paid all medical and/or lost employment income benefits due, the individual’s estate (through its representative) may be eligible to receive those benefits.
There is a one-year filing deadline from the date the victim received the vaccine to receive these benefits. The application for benefits can be found here: Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program Request for Benefits Form (hrsa.gov) This fund does not provide compensation for attorney’s fees or costs of filing. The requests for benefits are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services and are not appealable in any court.
What is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims administers the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which provides benefits for those injured from a covered vaccine. Examples include Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Human papillomavirus, and Influenza vaccinations. Many are considered presumptively compensable, if a particular injury occurs with an onset of symptoms within a limited timeframe after vaccination. It also covers claims for what are known as SIRVA (shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration). Benefits are only available to those who suffer injuries with effects that last over 6 months, result in hospitalization, surgery, or death. Benefits can include compensation for both past and future medical costs, past and future income losses (limited by certain government statistics) and compensation for pain and suffering (limited to $250,000). COVID vaccinations are not currently covered under the NVIC program. There is a three-year time limit to file a claim for benefits after the first symptom of the injury or two years after death. The program includes compensation for attorney’s fees and costs, independent of the compensation of the injured party. The matters are heard by Special Masters of the Court and appealable to the Court, in the Federal System. The funding for the program comes from a $.75 excise tax on each dose of vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine administration to children.
Once the Covid vaccine meets these criteria or becomes combined with other vaccines already being given, such as the influenza vaccination, it too should become covered by the VICP instead of the CICP.