COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Lawyer
The attorneys at Green & Schafle are leaders in the law when it comes to helping vaccine injury victims recover compensation for harm from an adverse event related to vaccine administration. Vaccine injuries are rare, but they do happen, and the government has set up programs to help injury victims receive compensation in those cases. Unfortunately, injuries related to the COVID-19 vaccine are currently treated differently from other vaccine injuries, making it harder for injury victims to get compensation.
Below, our COVID-19 vaccine injury lawyers have compiled some information about COVID-19 vaccines, possible side effects or adverse events, and what to do if injured by a COVID-19 vaccine.
What Are the Current COVID-19 Vaccines and Their Side Effects?
The Pfizer vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine to come onto the market. It was approved in early December 2020. The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses three weeks apart. It is an mRNA vaccine, using messenger RNA to instruct the body to create the coronavirus spike protein. This prompts an immune reaction that teaches the body to recognize and destroy the coronavirus.
Another early entrant to the field, the Moderna vaccine was approved in late December 2020. Moderna is also an mRNA vaccine. Also like Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses, although these doses come four weeks apart instead of three.
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals
The J&J vaccine was approved in late February 2021 and is different in many ways from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The J&J vaccine is administered in a single dose. It uses a modified adenovirus to implant coronavirus DNA into the body’s cells, which then allows the cell to code for coronavirus spike proteins like the other vaccines.
This vaccine has not yet been approved in the U.S., although it has been approved in other countries. Doubts as to the data presented regarding its efficacy and a link to blood clots have kept it from receiving much support in America. However, the FDA has approved an antibody cocktail developed by AstraZeneca to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines.
The approved vaccines have so far been found to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19, although booster shots are required to keep up immunity. Adverse events from the vaccines should be rare, as are adverse events with any approved vaccine, although they do occur. Common side effects of getting a COVID-19 shot include:
- Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site on the arm
- Muscle pain
Treatment for these nonserious conditions can include over-the-counter pain medications and antihistamines if these drugs are not otherwise ill-advised for the particular individual. So far, serious injuries following COVID-19 vaccination have been exceedingly rare compared to the overall vaccination rate, although this is small comfort to the people who do experience an adverse event. Some of the adverse events reported so far include:
Anaphylaxis – Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause rashes, swelling of the tongue or throat, a drop in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. It has occurred in about five people for every one million vaccinated, which doesn’t sound like a large number until you consider that over 543 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to date, with more still to go.
Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) – TTS causes blood clots in large blood vessels and low platelets, which are the blood component necessary for clotting. Dozens of people have reported TTS after receiving the J&J shot, including nine deaths. Only a few TTS cases have been reported following the Moderna vaccination and none with Pfizer.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) – GBS causes damage to nerve cells from the body’s immune system, which can lead to muscle weakness or paralysis. Nerve damage is sometimes permanent, although most people eventually make a full recovery from GBS. Several hundred cases of GBS have so far been reported, mostly from the J&J shot.
Myocarditis and Pericarditis – Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis refers to an inflammation of the heart’s outer lining. Over 2,000 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have been reported, mostly linked to the Pfizer or Moderna shot.
Death – The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received over 12,000 preliminary reports of death among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. This type of reporting is mandatory and does not mean that any of these deaths were caused by the vaccine. Only nine deaths have been identified by the CDC and the FDA to have been causally related to COVID-19 vaccination, in particular the J&J vaccine.
Why Is It so Hard to Get Compensation for a COVID-19 Vaccine Injury?
Most vaccine injuries are covered by a national program called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). VICP claims are filed in a special court according to special laws. Claims are heard by a judge, and there is a right to appeal. Although handling these claims can be complicated and require specialized knowledge and experience, the attorneys at Green & Schafle have particular expertise and experience in these cases and have helped many people find success in the VICP.
Unfortunately, the VICP won’t hear claims related to COVID-19. Those claims instead have to go through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). CICP is not a very useful program compared to the VICP; there is no judge and no right to appeal, decisions are made in secret, and claims rarely get paid out. The CICP also has a strict one-year timeline from the date of vaccination to file a claim, which is much shorter than the three years allotted to file a VICP claim.
So What Hope Is There for People With COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Claims?
There is currently a bill in Congress known as the Vaccine Modernization Act. This legislation provides important updates to the VICP, and it could also be used to transfer COVID-19 vaccine cases from the CICP to the VICP. If this change is made and the bill passes into law, persons harmed by a COVID-19 vaccine will have a much better chance of receiving compensation. Other important updates in the Vaccine Modernization Act include:
- Increasing the statute of limitations for filing a claim from three years to five years
- Increasing the amount of damages that could be awarded
- Speeding up the claims process by adding more judges
- Adding more covered vaccines, including vaccines for adults and not just childhood vaccines
COVID-19 vaccine injury cases might eventually get into the VICP once the vaccines become routine and recommended for children or pregnant women. Until then, it would take an act of Congress such as the Vaccine Modernization Act to move it from the CICP to the VICP. This legislation was introduced on the first of June 2021 but hasn’t progressed any further than the introduction stage as of February 2022, so its passage doesn’t look very promising or expected to come about any time soon.
Get Dedicated Legal Help After a COVID-19 Vaccine Injury
At this time, Green & Schafle is actively accepting and litigating all COVID-19 vaccine cases that have resulted in death, and our vaccine department is standing by ready to assess your potential case. If you have suffered an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine that did not result in a death, you can fill out our contact form and you will be subscribed to our email newsletter where we can update you on any legislative efforts to include COVID-19 vaccine injuries in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.