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Top Vaccine Injury Attorney
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Phone:  (307) 433−8864,

An Imperfect Solution To A Very Difficult Problem...

The National Vaccine Injury
Compensation Program:
What It Is ...
And Why It was Created

In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), creating a no-fault insurance program intended to financially compensate victims of childhood vaccine injuries.

The program's purpose was to prevent a public health crisis.

Years of product-liability lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers had already driven most of the vaccine makers out of business. Even though the companies were winning a majority of cases against them, the cost of litigation was exceeding the profits from sales, so they simply stopped making and selling vaccines.

With only a very few manufacturers still providing vaccines, many feared greatly that unless steps were taken to bring an end to the litigation, those companies would also quit, and vaccines that were so critical to public health would no longer be available anywhere at any price.

And that would lead to a public health catastrophe.

The program went into effect in late 1988, and was called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), or (shortened name) Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). It disburses compensation to victims of vaccine injuries from a fund set up and paid for out of excise taxes collected from every dose of vaccine sold.

The program is administered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Court of Federal Claims and U.S. Department of Justice.

Why Was the NVICP Necessary?

A half-century ago, in the 1960s, more than 25 different companies were manufacturing vaccines. And they were making vaccines for many diseases and combinations of diseases.

However, as vaccination of children from newborn through school age became widespread, a serious problem threatened not only public health, but possibly all of humanity.

Some vaccinations were occasionally causing injuries in certain individuals, and that led to increasing numbers of product-liability lawsuits against the vaccine manufacturers.

The vaccine makers easily won most cases against them, but the legal defense costs were prohibitive. For some companies, legal costs exceeded total profits from the company's entire vaccine product sales!

When companies discovered vaccine sales were no longer profitable, they simply stopped manufacturing vaccines. They chose instead to produce other, more profitable pharmaceuticals, or they went out of business.

As a result, through the 1970s and early 1980s, more and more vaccine makers abandoned the trade until by the mid-1980s, there were only three vaccine manufacturers still in operation.

This created a major problem for public health officials.

Vaccinations, begun in the 1930s and continuing into later decades had a huge effect in improving public health. Childhood diseases such as whooping cough, smallpox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and others...

...That once had claimed large numbers of children through death, were on retreat, with some approaching complete extinction. This was of great benefit to humanity, world-wide.

But unless something was done to limit product-liability exposure to companies making vaccines, if the three remaining manufacturers ceased operations, the world would have no further access to these miraculous inventions.

Congress Addresses the Problem

Clearly this was a very difficult issue.

When someone is injured by a legally required vaccination, it isn't fair for the victim to live a life of difficulty and despair without some form of assistance, including compensation for caregivers if the injury lasts for perhaps as much as an entire lifetime.

But unless something was done to limit liability exposure of vaccine companies, the vaccine supply would disappear, creating a huge problem if all of those once dangerous diseases were to suddenly reappear.

And, as always, solving difficult problems never works perfectly for everyone affected.

From this unsolvable dilemma, Congress produced a workable solution. It wasn't perfect, but it would have to do. Basically, an insurance program would be put in place to provide compensation to victims, paid for from an excise tax per dose on vaccines sold.

The vaccine manufacturers and persons administering the vaccines (doctors or nurses) would be exempt from liability in the future if injuries were to occur.

Health and Human Services objected to the plan, but Congress enacted it into law anyway. Then Congress put HHS in charge of writing the regulations, including power to alter the Covered Vaccines Table that Congress had created.

Unfortunately, complex legislation tends to be imperfect, and the NVICP was no exception.

Congress theorized that the program could be managed expeditiously, based on simple cause-and-effect relationships between vaccines and their corresponding typical injuries.

The theory was that claims could be processed quickly and simply, so it was mandated that payments be authorized within a few months (no more than 240 days or 8 months to be exact). But in the real world, actual NVICP payments can sometimes take up to 8 years, or even longer.

The process is not simple. It is very complex — and highly adversarial.

Claims must be submitted and defended by skilled attorneys who face attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice. The primary role of government lawyers is to find flaws in the claim or alternate explanations of the injury that would disassociate the injury from the vaccine, thus preventing payout on the claim.

Still, in this complex environment, injuries are proven and payments authorized under the program. Maximum payout if an injury results in death is $250,000. But for injuries not resulting in death, there is no fixed limit. The amount awarded is determined by the Special Masters in the Vaccine Court — part of the Federal Court of Special Claims.

Average injury payments in non-fatal cases historically average about $933,000.

It was a compromise, but also a very necessary law.

Give Us A Call, Or Email Us

If you think you or a loved one is the victim of a vaccine injury, give us a call right away at (307) 433−8864, or email us at

Don't Miss An Important Deadline

Do not delay.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has very strict filing deadlines that must be met. If you miss a deadline, you also lose your right to seek compensation for your injury.