By Dr. Mercola
Many are not aware that in the US there is a federally operated vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) that Congress created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The US Court of Federal Claims in Washington DC handles contested vaccine injury and death cases in what has become known as “vaccine court”.
The VICP is a “no-fault” alternative to the traditional civil court lawsuit and was established in 1986 after a string of high-profile lawsuits had slammed vaccine manufacturers.
At the time, parents were suing vaccine manufacturers after their children were brain injured or died following federally recommended and state mandated DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccine). There were several DPT injury lawsuits against the vaccine makers in the 1970’s and early 1980’s that resulted in multimillion dollar jury verdicts.
At that point the vaccine manufacturers threatened to stop producing DPT, MMR, and oral polio (the only childhood vaccines at the time) if the civil litigation continued. Rather than raising safety standards and compelling vaccine manufacturers to ensure they are producing the least toxic vaccines – Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, and shielded the vaccine makers from most civil liability related to their products.1
The American Public – Not the Vaccine Makers – Pay the Costs of Compensation
The federal VICP compensates vaccine victims not from a fund paid into by vaccine manufacturers, but through a federal trust fund that collects a 75-cent surcharge on every vaccine given (the combination MMR vaccine, for example, has a $2.25 fee tacked on to it because that shot contains three vaccines). So not only are drug companies making big profits from selling mandated vaccines to government and vaccine producers, they are also held legally blameless for both vaccine injuries and deaths and don’t have to pay a cent to those injured by their vaccines.
The VICP contains a Vaccine Injury Table that lists vaccine side effects that are known to be caused by vaccines. In order to win uncontested federal compensation for a vaccine injury, a person must prove he or she developed certain clinical symptoms and medical conditions on the Table within a certain time frame of receiving a certain vaccine, and that there is no more biologically plausible explanation for the vaccine-related injury or death.
If a clinical symptom and medical condition is not on the Vaccine Injury Table – or developed outside of the accepted timeframe, the vaccine injury claim is contested by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the US Department of Justice and is adjudicated in the US Court of Federal Claims (“vaccine court”). In Vaccine Court, the vaccine injured plaintiff must prove, usually via medical records and statements from a medical expert, that the vaccine could have caused the injury.
NPR detailed the story of Lisa Smith, a woman who was healthy until she received a flu shot and, a few days later, realized she couldn’t walk and had developed severe pain in her legs.2
Lisa had developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease of the nervous system. GBS is in the process of being added to the official Vaccine Injury Table. She only learned of the VICP after a friend told her about it. She filed a VICP claim and was awarded a settlement of an undisclosed amount.
Many People Are Not Aware of Vaccine Court
In 2014, there were 542 vaccine injury compensation claims filed in the VICP. Of the claims, 365 were compensated for a total of $202 million, with settlements ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.3
What you’ll notice is that very few of these claims are publicized or disclosed to the public in any way. It is obvious that the government does not want to publicize the existence of the VICP because the more Americans learn that there are vaccine injuries and deaths – those that have been vetted and compensated in a court of law – the more they may start to question the safety and of vaccines.
There is a government VICP website, which is run by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
It maintains vaccine injury claim statistics that have historically been updated monthly – until the government mysteriously removed more than a years worth of data earlier this year…
US Government Removes Vaccine Injury Court Statistics from Public Website
According to investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, in March 2015 the US government removed the latest vaccine injury court statistics (data from 2014 and 2015) from a publicly reported chart.4
HRSA stated they removed the data in order to sync up with data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is only current through 2013 and details the number of vaccine doses given in the US.
However, Attkisson noted there had been a sharp uptick in VICP awards for children and adults filing vaccine injury and death claims and the data was no longer included on the HRSA websites “adjudication” chart, which distorted the reality of what’s happening in vaccine court. As Attkisson reported:
“Since January of 2014, the number of flu vaccine cases conceded by the government is more than double the previous eight years combined. The adjudication chart only reflects half of the current number.
Concessions won by flu shot victims since 2006
Chart shows (through 2013): 42
Actual number (through April 2015): 88
Also on the rise is the number of vaccine injury cases the government has ‘conceded:’ up 55% in a little over one year. As a result of the recent website changes, neither of these trends is reflected on the current ‘adjudication’ chart.”
In addition, the HRSA website has been altered to make VICP stats harder to find. The adjudication chart used to be the first item on the statistics page, but was replaced by language stating vaccines are safe and effective.
Since 1998 through June 1, 2015, HRSA reports that 14,812 claims were filed in the VICP. The total paid out to vaccine victims was about $3.1 billion. While 4,121 were compensated, 9,904 have been dismissed. Further, the majority of vaccine injuries never make it to vaccine court. According to Attkisson:5
“Only about one injury case for every million doses of vaccines is compensated in vaccine court. Adverse events occur more frequently, according to vaccine warning labels, but rarely end up in the little-known vaccine court.”
Getting Compensated Through Vaccine Court Isn’t Always Easy…
While the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was originally set up to give vaccine-injured Americans an expedited, non-adversarial, less expensive administrative alternative to a civil court lawsuit, today it is the “exclusive remedy” for those seeking compensation for serious vaccine injuries.
Many vaccine victims are left waiting without support and financial assistance for years on end, while their case snakes its way through the federal governments 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 vowed to publicize the program, promising to improve the website to make its literature to make it easier to understand.
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 attorneys.6
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. However, few recommendations were ever implemented.7
Moreover, VICP directors didn’t begin taking action on publicity until after a congressionally requested Government Accountability Office (GAO) inquiry began last year.
Public outreach has also been largely ignored since the programs inception. The Associated Press also claims it found evidence suggesting that “the government seems intent on keeping the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s public profile low.”8
How Common Are Vaccine Injuries?
When the VICP was first created, if the injured party was denied compensation or was 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.9
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.” At this point, 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.
The question you’re probably wondering is, so how safe, or unsafe, are they? The answer is, no one really knows, as appropriate safety studies haven’t been conducted.
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, 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.10
Problems with a One-Size-Fits-All Vaccine Program
It’s now known that the microbiome influences our health and that an individuals gut microbes may help determine their immune response to vaccines. For instance, infants that responded to the rotavirus vaccine had a higher diversity of microbes in their gut, as well as more microbes from the Proteobacteria group, than infants who did not mount the expected immune response.11
Further, there has been little scientific research into how vaccines affect your genes and it’s likely different for every person because no two people are identical in terms of inherited genes, environmental exposures, or epigenetic influences that contribute to biodiversity.
There’s really no way to predict which genes will be affected, but the US government recommends, and many states mandate the same vaccine schedule for every American.
Yet, each individual will have a unique response to any given vaccine based on their age, current health status, and microbial makeup. In addition, we’re also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the vaccine side effects we might develop.
The fact is vaccines appear to cause mild or no reactions in some people but clearly can cause devastating reactions in others. 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