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Notably, prior to the introduction of vaccines, many parents lived in fear that their children would contract dangerous childhood diseases and die or be left with lifelong injuries. Today medical misinformation and little knowledge or understanding of the pre-vaccination era has led to persistent, although debunked, myths that lead to more parents opting their children out of vaccinations. While the overwhelming pushback is that vaccines are harmless, even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that no vaccine is 100 percent safe. In rare instances, vaccines can lead to death or serious injuries that require lifetime medical care. In those instances, families have the option of filing a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP provides compensation for medical and other costs to people for injuries and deaths associated with certain vaccinations.

There is no question about it, vaccines save lives by preventing disease. In fact, vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in the history of public health. Vaccines are responsible for eradicating diseases like smallpox and for the near elimination of the wild poliovirus and measles. However, in rare instances, vaccines can lead to death or serious injuries that require lifetime medical care.

Which Vaccines are Most Reported to the VICP?

Between 2006 and 2016, millions of American children received more than 3 billion immunizations. Only a small number of those vaccinations resulted in a serious injury. In fact, very rarely, people experience more serious side effects—most likely tied to allergic reactions. In fact, between 1988 and 2018, a grand total of 19,772 claims were submitted to the VICP. Notably, in 30 years, injury reports occurred most often from the following vaccines:

  • Seasonal influenza. The VCIP receives 4,461 claims for flu-shot related injuries and reports of 145 deaths. Of the total flu-shot claims, 2,692 claims were compensated.
  • DTP. The Diptheria-Tetanus-Pertussis shot is responsible for 3,286 claims and 696 reported deaths. Of the total DTP claims, 1,273 claims were compensated
  • MMR. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination is responsible for 966 claims and 61 reported deaths. Of the total MMR claims, 400 were compensated by the VCIP.
  • Hepititis B. The number of claims filed for hepititis b vaccination-related injuries is 685 and 59 reported deaths. Of the total number of claims, 271 were compensated.

The VCIP traditionally covers any childhood vaccination recommended by the CDC.

Types of Injuries Commonly Associated with Vaccinations

In the majority of cases, receiving a vaccination often results in soreness at the injection site. In addition, a person may experience mild symptoms related to the disease the vaccine intends to protect them from. While more serious vaccine injuries are rare, some people may experience significant symptoms that lead to:

  • Pain
  • Loss of body function
  • Death

Nearly all vaccines are linked to some illness, disability, injury or condition covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Most adverse reactions to vaccines are the result of an allergic reaction. The most commonly reported vaccine injuries include the following:


A potential life-threating allergic reaction from vaccines. Anaphylaxis leads to skin rashes, itching, hives, shortness of breath, swelling in the lips, tongue and throat.  

Brachial Neuritis

A form of peripheral neuropathy. Vaccines may cause swelling and inflammation of the nerve fibers that send signals to the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and down into the fingers.

Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA)

The seasonal flu shot is one of the most common causes of SIRVA. A vaccine injection that is too high or too deep into the shoulder it can lead to SIRVA. SIRVA is an injury to the musculoskeletal structures, such as tendons and ligaments, during the injection of a vaccine.

Vasovagal syncope

Occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers. The condition occurs mostly in adolescents and can result in hospitalization for a medical evaluation or reaction related to injuries.


Encephalitis occurs when an infection or the body’s immune response to an infection that affects the brain. The pertussis and MMR vaccines are typically responsible for encephalopathy. 

Chronic arthritis

Associated with vaccines containing the rubella virus. In order to be eligible for VICP compensation, symptoms must occur between 7 and 42 days.

Paralytic polio

Associated with vaccines that contain the live polio virus.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

This syndrome is linked to a number of vaccines, including the yearly flu shot. Further, in instances of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an individual’s immune system turns on itself. This can lead to nerve damage cell, muscle weakness and paralysis. The condition resolves within weeks, but it can lead to lasting nerve damage.

This is not a complete list of injuries that can result from vaccinations. If you believe that you have a vaccine injury, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a qualified VICP lawyer. We can help you determine the cause of your injuries and seek just compensation.

So, What Exactly is the VICP?

The VICP is a federal no-fault program enacted in 1986 under the Reagan Administration. Congress established the program because millions of American families were suing vaccine manufacturers. Successful lawsuits in the 1970s and 1980s blamed manufacturers for unexplained illnesses including, sudden infant death, mental retardation and epilepsy. The number of successful lawsuits drove all but one maker of the childhood DPT vaccine out of the U.S. market.

In order to bring back drugmakers, in 1986 Congress passed the Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The Act established the VICP; which is funded by a surcharge on every dose of covered vaccines. Rather than suing a manufacturer or provider through the civil tort system, claimants must petition for “no-fault” compensation with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Instead, the Secretary of Health and Human Services received the claimant’s petition. Claimants don’t have to prove negligence, failure to warn or other tort causes of action—they only need to prove that a vaccine led to the injury.

The VICP covers vaccines against 12 disease:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hemophilus influenza type B
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Rotavirus
  • Annual Influenza (flu) vaccine

Can The Carlson Law Firm Help With Vaccine Injury Compensation?

You may file a vaccine lawsuit if you or your child received a vaccination covered by the VICP. In many cases, these vaccines put live, but weakened viruses in your body. You may also file a vaccine lawsuit if you are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP.

At The Carlson Law Firm, we have been representing injured victims and their families for more than 40 years. We represent clients from all 50 states. If you or somebody you know suffered a vaccine injury, please contact our team immediately for a free consultation.

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