Note: Dr. Meryl Nass asks, and answers, a burning question:
What happens if something goes wrong after you receive a Covid vaccine?
The bottom line is that if you are injured by a vaccine or other "countermeasure" designated by the DHHS Secretary as intended for a pandemic or bioterrorism threat (Covid-19, Pandemic Flu, Anthrax, Smallpox) your options for receiving any financial benefit are very limited.
First, everyone involved with getting the vaccine to you has had their liability waived under the PREP Act. This includes everyone from the government planners of the vaccine program down to the doctor, nurse or even pharmacy intern who injects you. None can be sued in federal or state court, unless they wilfully tried to harm you. And it is virtually impossible to show wilfull misconduct.
Congress did create a program to compensate some victims, but it is much less generous than the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). (And no one ever accused the NVICP of being generous.). It is called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
It is entirely administered within the Department of Health and Human Services, the same agency that sponsored the vaccine program. There are no judges. If you are dissatisfied with the decision, the only appeal is to DHHS, where your case is reviewed by different employees. DHHS is the payor, too. DHHS therefore essentially acts as the judge, jury, and defendant. Unsurprisingly, only about 9% of people who applied to the program received any funds. Of the 446 claimants to the program, 407 were denied.
Unlike the NVICP, the CICP does not pay any attorney fees, expert witness fees or costs associated with filing a claim. When I spoke to Dr. Caserta, the program's director, the maximum payout, even for a death or permanent disability, was $250,000 per person. Maybe it has gone up a little...but it is unlikely to be enough to replace lost income and medical expenses for those seriously injured.
Dr. Caserta told me it was also a "payor of last resort"--which meant that if the claimant had other sources of funds, such as from insurance policies, that CICP would only pay the difference up to $250,000. In other words, if you had a disability policy that paid out $150,000, the most you could receive from the CICP would be $100,000. Read more at Dr. Nass's blog here.