The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Health & Gender Policy Brief # 125 | By: S Bhimji | August 20, 2021

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Policy Summary

Most Americans have no idea that there is a federal National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). This program has become very relevant recently because the government is urging all American adults to get the Covid vaccine. Rarely some people may develop an adverse reaction to a vaccine in an adult or a child and they may turn to the NVICP for monetary compensation.

The NVICP was first created in 1986 by Congress after there were several lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of vaccines. In turn, the manufacturers stated that without federal protection, they would no longer make vaccines.

Over the past 35 years, this federal trust fund has paid out billions of dollars in damages to Americans who have suffered adverse reactions to the vaccines.

How does one apply for compensation?

  1. If you have developed a vaccine-related adverse reaction like arm injury, nerve injury, brain infection, paralysis, or other problem that is directly attributable to the vaccine, you can get compensated.

2. The first step is to see a healthcare provider who can provide a medical statement that your injury is directly related to the vaccine.

3.The next step is to see a personal injury lawyer who will file a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC against the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Resources.

4. The case will be reviewed by the attorneys from the Justice Department and physicians from the Dept of Health & Human resources.

5. In some cases the Justice Department along with the Dept of Health and Human Resources may deny the claim; in this case, the Court of Federal Claims will determine if compensation for the injured party is appropriate.

6. One does not have to be a US citizen to file a claim for vaccine injury

7. There is no age limit and anyone who got the vaccine and suffered an adverse reaction can file a claim

Before one can claim an adverse reaction or injury to the vaccine, the following criteria need to be met:

  • The symptoms should have lasted more than 6 months after the administration of the vaccine or-
  • The individual required hospital admission and/or surgery or-
  • The individual died as a result of the vaccine

The NVICP covers the following vaccines: 

  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Influenza
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Meningococcal
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal conjugates
  • Polio vaccine
  • Rotavirus
  • Tetanus
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

Policy Analysis

The plaintiff should consult with a personal injury lawyer to determine if he or she has a vaccine case against the government. The lawyers do not charge upfront fees but do take a certain percentage of the award. In addition, the lawsuit must be filed within 36 months since the appearance of the first symptom or within 2 years, if death occurred following the vaccine administration.

In 2020, 1,191 claims were filed with the NVICP , a slight decrease from the 2,592 cases in 2003. Since 1988, more than 50% of claims have been dismissed and in about 2/3rd of cases where compensation was awarded a direct role of the vaccine and injury was not established.

The compensation will cover the legal and medical expenses, loss of future earnings, and up to $250K for pain and suffering. If the individual died, there is a death benefit of $250K. In 2020, the average payout was about $250K.

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Photo taken from: Vaccine Injury Law Project

Even though many victims consult with a lawyer, this is not necessary. One can file the claim directly with the court by paying a filing fee of $250; the fee is waived for those unable to pay. To win compensation, one has to have a chronology of the events following the vaccine including all records of prior vaccinations records as well as a medical report.

It is anticipated that Congress will add the Covid vaccines to the list within the next few months. Besides Covid, other vaccines not covered include shingles, Pneumovax, anthrax, rabies, smallpox, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.


National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

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National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Vaccine Injury Compensation Programs

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