Americans harmed by vaccines often receive little or nothing after a long legal battle despite a $3.5 billion federal fund designed to help them.
“Nobody who develops the vaccine, who markets and profits from the vaccine, who regulates the vaccine, who makes policy for it, who promotes it, who gives it, is accountable in a civil court of law,” Barbara Loe Fisher, the President of the National Vaccine Information Center, told Cronkite News.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth interview with Fisher here.)
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was set up in the 1980s to reimburse victims of vaccines. It is financed by a 75 cent tax that is collected on all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The problem: The government blocks people from receiving the money.
The program was set up after vaccine manufactures threatened to stop making vaccines in the face of suits. Congress agreed to shield the manufacturers.
“So really they have nothing, these people have nothing,” said Renee Gentry, the president of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association. “You either go into this program or you get nothing and it’s waived.”
The problem is that many people injured by vaccines miss the deadline for filing a claim or they go through the process and still don’t get compensated. Others may have never heard of the program.
The pro-vaccine Biotechnology Industry Organization called the program “a fair and expeditious system to compensate those who may have rare reactions to vaccines.” But it’s far from expeditious and speedy.
Governments Fights Vaccine Victims
The program was supposed to make it easy for victims to get compensated. Instead, victims are having a harder time getting paid because the federal government fights most claims.
“I had never heard of it,” Phoenix nurse, Tarah Gramza said. “I knew nothing about it, which is crazy because it’s not something you hear about in health care. Nobody talks about it. It’s not even known.”
Gramza found out about the program the hard way after her 14-year-old daughter, Jasmyne Gramza, came down with a mysterious autoimmune disorder after her third dose of the Gardasil vaccine. Gramza later found research linking Gardasil to autoimmune disorders. She did make the deadline, but barely. Two years already had passed.
The funding program is described in the Vaccine Information Statement, the release that people have to sign when they or their children get vaccinated. The problem is that people don’t read the statement – and most healthcare professionals do not tell patients about the program, Drew Downing an attorney who specializes in vaccine cases, told Cronkite News.
“I don’t think anybody ever reads those things,” Downing said. “And that’s really the only place that the vaccine program is really ever talked about.”
If someone misses the deadline, nothing can be done, Downing noted.
It’s also difficult to get compensated because a vaccine must be listed on the Vaccine Injury Table for a victim to qualify, and the condition also must be on the table. Newer vaccines are not on the table. If they’re not on the table, then victims must find expert medical witnesses – which can be difficult because doctors won’t want to be seen as anti-vaccine.
“It’s because of the stigma attached to the anti-vaccine movement,” Downing told KTAR. “They just don’t want to be associated with it in that regard.”
Even if a patient is aware of the program, he or she might get nothing because of the cumbersome claim process, Gentry said. Cronkite News called the program “complicated, litigious and time-consuming.”
“There’s no part of it that’s easy,” Gentry said. “It’s knock-down, drag-out fighting at every step.”
Under the program, a person is supposed to file a claim with the US Court of Federal of Claims within three years of being injured by a vaccine. Survivors of a person who died from a vaccine have to file within two years of a death.
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