Late last summer the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) reached a milestone that no one should be proud of. The total amount of compensation and fees paid out for injuries and deaths as the result of the influenza vaccine crossed the $1 Billion dollar threshold. This represents over 25% of the entire outlay from the Program was the result of injuries and deaths from the Influenza vaccine. This vaccine was only approved in 2005. I wrote about it here.
Now we are approaching another milestone, the total number of petitions filed in one fiscal year. The benchmark was notoriously achieved in 1991 with 2,718 filings and was nearly matched in 2003 with 2,592 filings. In 1991, the program required petitioners within a given timeframe for Hepatitis B injuries. In 1992, the petition filings dropped to 189 and remained steady until 2000.
The vast majority of 2003 petitions (2,592) were autism related. The following year, 2004, saw 1,214 filings. The 2004 figure alone if not for 2003 could have served as the high-water mark for the next 13 years. Most years the figure was between 350-600 petitions filed.
It was not until 2017 that we see petition filings approach the 2004 figure of 1,214. And sadly, since 2017 with 1,243 filings, we are now seeing a consistent reporting of annual petitions above 1,200. This is due to the Influenza vaccine injuries such as shoulder injuries and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
However, in the current fiscal year of 2021 which ends September 30, 2021, there is a strong possibility of breaking the 2003 mark of 2,592. It appears that if petitions continue to be submitted to HRSA seeking compensation at the same rate as the last couple of months, the new mark could be 2,600 or greater. Will it overcome the 1991 mark of 2,718? It is possible? Many petitioners filed in January and February of this year due to the proposed rule by Secretary of HHS to remove SIRVA or shoulder injury and syncope or fainting as Table injuries in the NVICP, to beat the clock of February 22, 2021.
However, since the Biden Administration has removed this proposed action, we are still witnessing large numbers of petitions being submitted. Adults are still injured in large numbers. There are a few petitions for children being filed but the vast majority are adults. Attorneys representing injured persons are busier than ever. Many attorneys in this field work 80-90+ hours per week.
The downward trend that has gone unnoticed by many is the average compensation amount per award. The figure is compensation for the injured person, excluding attorney fees and medical expert costs. And HRSA does not publicize this figure in their monthly statistics report.