Compensation Growing for Botched Vaccine Administration

SEPTEMBER 09, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor
Patients Compensated for SIRVA

Since 2011, $18 million has been awarded to 12 individuals with SIRVA, and half of them were paid in the last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Twenty more claims are also pending.

Both increased awareness of SIRVA and more individuals receiving immunizations may be contributing to this rise in patient claims.

SIRVA is the first condition compensated by the government that relates to vaccine technique instead of the substance within the vaccine, The Wall Street Journal noted.

Recently, a nurse named Latasha George was awarded $1.04 million because of her SIRVA diagnosis from a flu shot. The shot, which was administered in 2010, caused George to lose mobility in her arm, so she could not pick up a cup of coffee or wash her hair.

“I will never get a flu shot again,” George told The Wall Street Journal. 

Elisabeth Cassayre said a flu shot administered at her local pharmacy caused pain that prevented her from lifting her right arm.

“I remember thinking: I’ll never be able to make an apple pie for my grandchildren,” she told Wired.

Almost 10 years later, Cassayre said her injury is better now and she still gets flu shots, though she cautions people to be more careful about vaccinations.

Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

While all of these vaccine injury cases come before the Office of Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims for judgment, it’s the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) that doles out the funds.

VICP allows patients to file claims for financial compensation due to an adverse event, though it maintains that receiving compensation does not necessarily mean that the vaccine caused the alleged injury.

“Over 80% of all compensation awarded by the VICP comes as result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury,” VICP stated.

The program also noted that the United States has the safest and most effective vaccine supply in history and adverse effects occur very rarely.

For every 1 million doses of vaccine distributed, 1 individual was compensated between 2006 to 2014, according to VICP.

Looking at VICP claims in that time period, the most common vaccines involved in an alleged injury that led to compensation were influenza (1188), Tdap (141), and DTaP (113).

There were 325 petitions filed with the program in 2006, but this number has climbed to 690 in 2015, according to a VICP September 2015 report.

In 2006, 68 individuals were compensated for a petitioners’ award amount totaling around $48.7 million. With additional attorneys’ fees/costs payments, including those for dismissed payments, plus fees and costs for interim attorneys, the total outlay in 2006 was $52.5 million.

In 2015, 481 individuals received a total compensation of around $198 million. With the various attorneys’ fees, the total outlay in 2015 was around $218 million.

Since 1989, the government has paid more than $3.2 billion related to VICP claims.