Taking vaccine-related injuries to court (Online Only)
Jill Follows JD, RN

July 2012 
Volume 42  Number 7
Pages 1 - 4
  PDF Version Available!

THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT considers vaccines to be a primary prevention for many infectious diseases, including seasonal influenza (flu). For many years, federal government advisory committees have recommended annual vaccination for seasonal influenza in all healthcare personnel.1Most nurses and patients don't miss a beat following seasonal influenza vaccination. However, a few people develop serious illnesses, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) or transverse myelitis following vaccination. (See Comparing GBS with transverse myelitis.)Using the cases of two nurses who believed they were injured by a seasonal flu vaccine, this article explains legal avenues for compensation for such an injury, including what the court requires to prove a claim. Some vaccine injury compensation claims are settled early and efficiently. Other claims are prepared for a formal hearing in court. The specific facts of each claim dictate the degree and extent of claim investigation, the need for legal discovery tools such as depositions, and the complexity of the hearing process before the court.In 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (the Vaccine Act) established a no-fault system for pursuing vaccine-related injury claims.2 The Vaccine Act's purpose was, in part, to "achieve optimal prevention of human infectious diseases through immunization and to achieve optimal prevention against adverse reactions to vaccines."3The Vaccine Act creates a no-fault compensation program (the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program or VICP) to award compensation efficiently to people who can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they've been injured by specific vaccines.4 Cases are adjudicated in the so-called "vaccine court" administered by the Office of Special Masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The vaccine court is located in Washington, D.C., several blocks from the White House.The Vaccine Act applies to anyone receiving specifically identified vaccines listed on the Vaccine

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