An Unwelcome Milestone: Payouts for Influenza Vaccine Injuries Exceed $900 Million

Getting vaccinated with any vaccine seems to be like playing Russian Roulette.

For any who is not familiar with the Russian roulette “game”, one takes a six shot revolver, loads only one round in the cylinder, spins the cylinder, palaces the business end of the barrel, the muzzle of the barrel against one’s head, pulls the rigger and either one blows their brains out or not, depending on if the live round was positioned to fire or not.

The theory is by getting vaccinated for a specific disease or virus, one has a much better chance, apparently not a fool proof chance, of not contacting said disease.

The Hope is the vaccine does not kill or disable you while it will keep you from contacting whatever it is they tell you your or your children are being vaccinated against.

The Ole Dog!

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “milestone” as “a significant point in development.” Unfortunately, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) is approaching a milestone not suitable for celebration. Rather, it is a moment to pause and reflect on the number and severity of injuries that influenza vaccines have caused.

Vaccine scientists have been developing inactivated influenza vaccines (IIVs) for decades, formulating the first bivalent (two-strain) IIV in the early 1940s and the first trivalent (three-strain) IIV in 1978. In 2003 , the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first three-strain live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) for use in children and adults aged 5-49 years old, extending its approval to those aged 2-49 years old in 2007. Since then, numerous influenza vaccines using different technologies and targeting different age groups have entered the market, including four-strain vaccines (both live and inactivated), ultra-potent vaccines for those over age 65, pandemic vaccines and recombinant (genetically engineered) vaccines. The FDA approves some influenza vaccines using accelerated approval mechanisms.

The NVICP began covering injuries resulting from trivalent influenza vaccines in 2005, expanding its coverage to all seasonal influenza vaccines in 2013. The Program does not cover non-seasonal influenza vaccines. By 2010, influenza vaccination had become a prevalent catalyst for vaccine injury petitions to the NVICP, and by 2015, it was the dominant vaccine in the Program for injuries and death, accounting for more than seven out of ten petitions filed. Influenza vaccination is the very reason why the program designed by Congress as a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is no longer primarily for children’s injuries but has become a program where compensation is more often for adult vaccine injuries.

Over 2,000 influenza petitions alone are pending. Not even a year ago, that figure was 50% less.
Types of injuries and extent of payouts
Today, the most common severe injuries reported following influenza vaccination are “shoulder injury related to vaccine administration” (SIRVA), Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), transverse myelitis (TM), chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and death.

As of mid-March 2020, the total NVICP payout for all injuries and death from seasonal influenza vaccines was approximately $897,967,381.38 (based on my analysis of all decisions posted at the United States Court of Federal Claims website). In other words, just shy of $900 million dollars for damages, attorney fees and medical expert costs—for vaccines that have only been part of the compensation program for the last 15 years.

Another statistic that is concerning is the ever-growing number of petitions filed in the NVICP that await medical reviews or decisions. Over 2,000 influenza petitions alone are pending. Not even a year ago, that figure was 50% less.

Injuries to children versus adults
Although payouts for adult influenza vaccine injuries predominate, this does not mean that children do not experience influenza vaccine injuries. However, children generally receive flu vaccines at the same time as multiple other vaccines, making it challenging to tease out influenza vaccination’s adverse effects. Adults tend to receive the influenza vaccine by itself.

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An Unwelcome Milestone: Payouts for Influenza Vaccine Injuries Exceed $900 Million

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