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National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Vaccine Injury Table

Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines: VICP Should “Compassionately and Expeditiously” Provide Compensation for Vaccine Injuries

What is the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV)?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides a way for vaccine recipients and parents to recover compensation for vaccine-related injuries and illnesses without the need to file a traditional lawsuit against a healthcare provider or vaccine manufacturer. The VICP has several advisory committees that are tasked with making recommendations for improving the administration of the program. In this article, vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant discusses the role of the VICP’s Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV).

The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV) is one of several advisory committees that, “advises and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues relating to the operation of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).” It has nine members, including three non-government health professionals, “who have expertise in the health care of children, the epidemiology, etiology, and prevention of childhood diseases, and the adverse reactions associated with vaccines.”

Under its Charter, the ACCV is specifically responsible for:

  • Advising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “regarding the need for childhood vaccination products that result in fewer or no significant adverse reactions;”
  • “[Surveying] federal, state, and local programs and activities relating to the gathering of information on injuries associated with the administration of childhood vaccines, including the adverse reaction reporting requirements;” and,
  • “[Recommending] to the Director of the [VICP] research related to vaccine injuries which should be conducted to carry out the Program.”

The ACCV’s Role in Ensuring Fair Access to Compensation Under the VICP

In a recent meeting, the minutes of which are publicly available online, ACCV member Karen Kain raised an important point about the purpose of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. While decisions regarding compensation awards must be based on applicable legislation and the medical evidence presented, it is important not to lose sight of the fundamental purpose of the VICP—to provide compensation to those who need it. As recorded in the meeting minutes:

“Ms. Kain began her comments by reminding the commission that the Vaccine Act intended the VICP to be a no-fault process that compassionately and expeditiously provides compensation for vaccine injury claims. Ms. Kain commented that during her first year on the ACCV she has felt a bias toward opinions and commissioners who are medical professionals, attorneys or scientists. The ACCV was designed to include opinions from representatives of all stakeholders, including the vaccine-injured and people who have been through the VICP process. . . .”

In addition to non-government health professionals, the remaining six members of the ACCV are: (i) three attorneys; (ii) two members of the general public who are, “legal representatives of children who have suffered a vaccine-related injury or death;” and, (i) one additional member of the general public. As such, the ACCV is indeed intended to provide multiple perspectives on the effective administration of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program—and the ACCV’s recommendations are intended to influence DHHS decisions regarding potential changes to the VICP.

ACCV Challenges Proposal to Remove New Vaccines from VICP Coverage

It appears that Ms. Kain’s comments were triggered, at least in part, by DHHS’s decision not to accept the ACCV’s recommendation to remove a specific change from its pending Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). An NPRM is a formal step in the process of amending existing federal regulations, and the NPRM in question relates to the vaccines and vaccine injuries covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Specifically, the NPRM in question seeks to remove a row from the VICP’s Vaccine Injury Table. The Vaccine Injury Table identifies vaccines and vaccine injuries that are eligible for compensation under the Program without evidence of causation. For “on table” vaccine injuries, as long as symptoms onset within the timeframe prescribed by the Vaccine Injury Table, it is presumed that the vaccine recipient (or the vaccine recipient’s family) is eligible for compensation under the Program. The Vaccine Injury Table lists injuries related to all childhood vaccines currently recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it also provides coverage for certain injuries related to, “[a]ny new vaccine recommended by the [CDC] for routine administration to children . . . .”

The NPRM in question seeks to remove this final line from the Vaccine Injury Table. According to the ACCV’s meeting minutes, the ACCV recommended against the adoption of this change; and, following DHHS’s rejection of the recommendation, the ACCV intends to establish a workgroup in order to present additional evidence in support of its position.

When are Child Vaccine Injuries Eligible for Compensation Under the VICP?

As mentioned above, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program provides coverage for all CDC-recommended childhood vaccinations, and many of the most-common injuries associated with these vaccines are listed as “on table” injuries. The eligibility criteria for seeking compensation for childhood vaccine injuries are the same as those that apply to adults. These include:

  • Administration of a covered vaccine;
  • Injury lasting for at least six months or requiring inpatient hospitalization and surgical intervention; and,
  • Filing a claim within three years of the first sign of the injury.

Currently, “covered vaccines” under the VICP include the vaccines for: diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus (HPV), seasonal influenza, measles, mumps, meningococcal, pertussis, pneumococcal, polio, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, and varicella (chickenpox).

For parents, there are some important steps to take if you believe that your child has experienced a vaccine-related injury or illness. For an overview of these steps, you can read: What Should I Do if My Child has an Adverse Reaction to a Vaccine?

Nationwide Legal Representation for Child Vaccine Injury Claims Under the VICP

Our firm provides nationwide legal representation for parents with children who have been diagnosed with vaccine-related injuries and illnesses. If you have questions about filing a VICP claim, we encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation. To discuss your legal rights with vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant in confidence, please call 202-800-1711 or contact us online today.

Leah Durant Bio

Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.

About Leah Durant

Leah Durant is a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney who specializes in vaccine injury claims covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These cases are filed before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (more commonly known as the “vaccine court”) in Washington, DC, where she has been admitted to practice since 2008. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Leah Durant is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. Leah Durant’s legal practice concentrates on litigating complex vaccine injury and medical related cases. She has an extensive legal background and has experience representing individuals with complex medical claims.

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