By Dr. Avril Melissa Houston, Director, Division of Injury Compensation Programs, Healthcare Systems Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration
Have you ever had a patient who had a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine? If your answer is yes, you should know about two Federal laws that establish programs that may help those patients and may also provide healthcare practitioners with liability protection: the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005. Both of these laws established injury compensation programs that are “no-fault,” which means patients don’t have to prove that their healthcare practitioner did something wrong in order for them to be compensated. These programs may pay medical and other expenses of patients if their injuries are found to be caused by a covered vaccine or other countermeasure.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a Federal program that provides compensation to individuals of any age who are found to be injured by a VICP-covered vaccine. The VICP covers vaccines recommended by the CDC for routine administration to children (including seasonal flu vaccines) and subject to an excise tax. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, individuals may receive compensation through a settlement. For more information on the VICP, call toll free 1-800-338-2382 or visit their website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.
The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) is a Federal program that provides benefits to individuals who are seriously injured as a direct result of the administration or use of a covered countermeasure used to prevent, diagnose, or treat certain diseases, health conditions, or security threats that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares to be a present or future public health emergency. Examples of currently covered countermeasures are certain vaccines, drugs, and devices used to prevent, treat or diagnose pandemic influenza, smallpox, anthrax, botulism, acute radiation syndrome, and Ebola. Additional covered countermeasures can be added by the Secretary at any time. For more information on the CICP, call toll free 1-855-266-2427 or visit their website at www.hrsa.gov/cicp.