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    Liability is limited in vaccine-related injuries

    The number of adults claiming injury from vaccine administration is on the rise, but providers rarely run the risk of liability.

    Those who administer vaccines may fear legal recourse from patients injured in the process, but a federal program created to handle these claims adjudicates most cases through a trust fund.

    The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created in the late 1980s to provide a no-fault alternative to traditional legal claims which, at the time, officials feared could threaten vaccine supply and vaccination rates.

    Martin Kramer of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said about 80% of the compensation awarded through the VICP program is the result of negotiated settlements where program administrators have not concluded that vaccines caused the injury. Petitions may be awarded in this way when both parties recognize there is a risk of loss and to minimize the time and expense involved in litigation.

    “The purpose of the VICP is to ensure that individuals injured by certain vaccines are provided with fair and efficient compensation, and to ensure a stable vaccine supply by limiting liability for vaccine manufacturers and vaccine administrators,” Kramer told Medical Economics.

    Since the program’s inception, Kramer said 59% of the claims through VICP involved children and 41% involved adults. However, since 2006, the trend has started to shift, and 24% of claims since that time involved children while 76% where injuries occurring in adults.

    The shift seems to coincide with more widespread uptake of the flu vaccine, which is also the vaccine most commonly alleged to cause injury, according to VICP records.

    Next: Inside VICP

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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