Can Vaccines Cause Injuries or Health Complications?

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vaccine injuries

Vaccines are responsible for eradicating devastating diseases such as polio, smallpox, measles, and diphtheria, to name a few. Over the years, they have saved millions of lives by preventing disease. The COVID-19 vaccine was approved in 2021, and millions of people around the world have been vaccinated. Many people have also received booster shots, which provide additional protection against the virus, including the Delta and Omicron strains. Most people who get vaccinated do not experience any adverse reactions. If they do, the side effects are usually very mild. However, as with any medication, there is a risk of a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine, or other unexpected adverse events related to the vaccine. If you experience a serious side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine or any other vaccination, you may be eligible for financial compensation. A lawyer experienced in medical malpractice will assist you with the claims process and ensure that you reach a favorable settlement outcome.

What Are Examples of Vaccine Injuries?

In most cases, side effects from a vaccine are minor and may include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, and a slight fever. However, although rare, vaccines can cause injuries and health complications that are much more serious, including the following:

  • Allergic reactions: Symptoms from an allergic reaction can range from mild itching or soreness at the injection site to serious, potentially life-threatening complications such as anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock, which can cause the airways to swell, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Autoimmune disorders: In rare cases, a vaccine may cause the body to attack normal, healthy cells instead of attacking the virus. This can lead to a range of medical conditions, including:
    – Brachial neuritis: This causes damage to the brachial plexus, which leads to weakness, loss of feeling, or pain on one side of the body.
    – Encephalitis: This is an inflammation of the brain, which causes a range of symptoms, including general confusion, muscle weakness, and seizures.
    – Encephalopathy: This includes a range of conditions that can cause memory loss, seizures, dementia, and other symptoms.
    – Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS): Symptoms range from experiencing a pins-and-needles sensation to a rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing.
    – Thrombocytopenic purpura: This causes blood platelet levels to drop, which leads to excessive bruising and bleeding.
    – Transverse myelitis: This is a rare condition that causes inflammation in the spinal cord, which results in weakness or numbness in the limbs.
  • Blood conditions: In rare cases, vaccines can cause a range of blood conditions, depending on whether the platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells are affected. 
  • Digestive issues: If a vaccine causes bowel issues, symptoms tend to be mild. However, in rare cases, inflammation or swelling can cause problems with bowel movements, as well as structural issues such as intussusception, which is a painful condition that occurs when a portion of the intestine slides inside another section.
  • Brain conditions: These may include the following:
    – Encephalitis: This is an inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include general confusion, seizures, and muscle weakness.
    – Encephalopathy: This can cause memory loss, seizures ,and dementia, depending on the condition that is affecting the brain.
    – Vasovagal syncope: This is a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can cause fainting.
  • Nerve damage: If a vaccine causes the immune system to attack healthy nerves, it can cause inflammation and nerve damage. Specific conditions include Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, and brachial neuritis.
  • Shoulder injuries: In addition to pain at the injection site, a vaccine can cause other shoulder injuries, including brachial neuritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), which causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder.

How Do I Obtain Compensation for a Vaccine Injury?

If you suffered an injury or a serious health complication from a vaccine, you may be able to collect financial compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which is a no-fault program that was created so that individuals who were injured by a VICP-approved vaccine could seek financial compensation. The majority of vaccines that are administered in the United States are covered by the VICP. The VICP was established in the 1980s after a number of lawsuits were filed against companies and health care providers. The rise in lawsuits threatened to cause vaccine shortages and reduce vaccination rates, which could lead to a resurgence in preventable diseases. 

To obtain financial compensation through the VICP, the following steps must be completed:

  • File a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services medical staff will review the petition and determine whether it meets the criteria for financial compensation before making a preliminary recommendation.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) develops a report that includes medical recommendations and a legal analysis. The report is submitted to the Court.
  • Once the report is submitted to a court-appointed special master, he or she will determine whether the petitioner should be compensated. This usually occurs after a hearing, where both parties have the opportunity to present evidence. If compensation is awarded, the special master will determine the type and amount of compensation that the claimant will receive.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is then ordered to award compensation. If certain requirements are met, the Department may be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees and other costs, even if the petition is dismissed.

Does the VICP Cover COVID-19 Vaccine Injuries?

Under normal circumstances, it can take up to 10 years to develop a vaccine. However, the COVID-19 vaccine received emergency approval within months. Approximately 44,000 participants enrolled in the clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 30,000 participants enrolled in the clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine. Although the accelerated timeline made the vaccine available to the general population at a much sooner rate, it also means that there is little to no data about the potential adverse events such as joint pain, autoimmune disorder, neurologic conditions, or allergic reactions. Unfortunately, serious adverse events associated with vaccines tend to have a particularly negative effect on low-income individuals, since they do not always have the financial resources to obtain the necessary medical care. In addition, from a financial standpoint, those of low income may not be able to afford to take days off from work if they are experiencing serious side effects from the vaccine.   

When the Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in March 2020, COVID-19 vaccine injuries were excluded from the VICP. In response to this, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act was created. This is a federal law that requires anyone who has been injured by a vaccine that was given as a countermeasure during a declared emergency to pursue a claim under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). Unfortunately, this program only compensates for the most serious injuries, and it is far less generous than the VICP. In addition, there is a one-year statute of limitations after the date of vaccination, a limit to the amount of money that will be awarded, and claimants have a higher burden of proof compared with the VICP. Ultimately, if you suffer an injury or a serious health complication from the COVID-19 vaccine, it is less likely that you will be able to obtain financial compensation than if you suffered injuries from another VICP-approved vaccine. 

Will My COVID Vaccine-Related Injury Claim Be Denied?

As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, and a growing number of private and federal employers require their employees to get vaccinated, more people may pursue injury claims after experiencing serious effects. However, claimants must be able to prove that the injury or health issues was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine, but there is currently little to no research on injury causation available. One example of a patient who experienced serious health complications from the COVID-19 vaccine included a 44-year-old healthy woman who developed life-threatening blood clots in her heart, lungs, and left leg after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is an extremely rare side effect. In fact, of the 8.7 million people who got the Johnson & Johnsons shot, only 28 experienced this complication. After spending nine days in the hospital, she accumulated close to $490,000 in medical bills. Her insurance covered the majority of the costs, but she is responsible for paying nearly $7,000 in out-of-pockets costs. Although not all COVID-19 vaccine injuries are this serious, patients are entitled to financial compensation. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer will assist you with vaccine-related claims, including COVID-19 claims, and ensure that you receive the compensation for which you are entitled.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients with COVID-19 Vaccine Injuries

If you or a loved one suffered an injury or a serious health complication after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you are urged to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will address all your questions and concerns about how to file a claim and explain the options that are currently available. Our knowledgeable team will work closely with you to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the financial compensation for which you are entitled. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.