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Viruses, Diseases, and Vaccines

From the time we are too young to even remember, shots are a routine part of visiting the doctor. By the time most children are six months old, they have already been vaccinated for nearly ten harmful diseases, including Hepatitis B and Polio. These vaccinations continue to be administered throughout childhood and into young adulthood. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that vaccinations are the best way to protect infants, children, and adults from at least 16 serious diseases.

So what exactly is a vaccine? And why do we poke so many kids with needles? To put it simply, a vaccine is basically a weakened or killed form of a disease that is administered into the body. This triggers the body's immune system to recognize and destroy the disease when exposed to it later on. This prevents millions of people from harmful illnesses that can cause sickness, hospitalization, or even death.

So why are we talking about this? Some serious diseases including measles are making a comeback this year. As of April 2019, more than 670 people in 22 states have contracted measles. This is concerning because as of the year 2000, the US had completely eliminated measles. This year marks a record high since that point. How did this outbreak start, you ask? There is widespread concern that lower vaccination rates in the US are helping the virus spread.

What does all this have to do with the law. Sometimes vaccines can cause problems. Like all things in life there is some bad that comes with the good. Specifically certain vaccines have a range of side effects including allergic reactions. Most are very rare and mild.

Not to fret! The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) has created a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) that compensates people who believe they have been injured by a covered vaccine. The list of vaccines covered are on their website and can be viewed at hrsa.gov. The VICP was created in the 1980's after lawsuits against vaccine companies threatened to cause a vaccine shortage and reduce US vaccination rates (psst, which is exactly what happened).

The VICP program is an alternative to the traditional tort system (no, not cakes). Torts are a legal way of providing compensation to an injured party. Unlike the tort system though, the requirements for qualifying under the VICP are somewhat restricted. Specifically, a select amount of vaccines and certain type injury make you eligible. An individual must file a petition with the US Court of Federal Claims. Then, the US Department of Health and Human Services reviews the petition and makes a recommendation. The US Department of Justice develops a report for the Court. After a hearing is held, the court orders the US Department of Health to award compensation to the petitioner.

What now? Well, you don't want to get sick do you? Like I said earlier, sometimes the good comes with some bad. Vaccinations are easily the best way to prevent sickness. The takeaway: get your vaccines. If you do happen to have a reaction, the VICP may have you covered!

Let the Lawyers of Reich and Binstock help you with your claim. Call one of our experienced lawyers today.

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