Vaccine Injury Compensation - The VICP

Learn What to Do If a Vaccine Made You or a Loved One Sick

If you believe you've been injured by a vaccine, you may be able to file a claim through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP was developed to safeguard the U.S. national vaccine supply, and to compensate those who have developed problems from vaccines.

Medical science continues to prove that for most people, vaccines are safe and effective. Yet despite precautions and extensive testing, some people suffer lifelong medical problems, or have died, as a result of being vaccinated.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the VICP to help you decide if this is an avenue for you or a loved one who may have been harmed by a vaccine.

Q: What kinds of injuries does the VICP pay claims for?

Woman Getting Vaccination
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Different injuries result from different vaccines. You can find a table of adverse events at the VICP website.

The vaccine must have:

  • caused an injury that lasted for more than six months after vaccination
  • OR resulted in a hospital stay and surgery (both) 
  • OR resulted in death

The list of vaccines and injuries on the VICP website is not complete, and compensation has been made for many vaccine-related injuries that are not listed. According to Anne Toale, an attorney who handles VICP cases, the table is a list of injuries that are presumed to have been vaccine-caused. These injuries result in an automatic win unless the government rebuts the presumption. However, most cases in the program are "non-table injuries." Experts are used to prove the case.

Q: Who can file a claim with the VICP?

You may file a claim if:

  • You were injured by a vaccine.
  • Your child or dependent was injured by a vaccine.
  • You are the legal representative of the estate of someone who was injured by a vaccine and you believe the vaccination caused the person's death.

You do not need to be a citizen of the U.S.

Q: Are all vaccines given in the U.S. covered by the VICP?

No, not all vaccines are covered. A list of the vaccines covered can be found on the VICP website.

Most vaccines recommended for children are covered, including MMR, polio, tetanus, pertussis and others.

Q: Is the annual flu vaccine covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund?

Yes. Trivalent flu vaccines, which describes the annual flu shot given in the U.S. each year, are covered by the VICP.

Q: Is there a time limit on when I need to file a claim?

Yes, there is a time limit on when you need to file a claim depending on the adverse event that took place. In general, if someone is injured by a vaccine, they have three years from the onset of the first symptom to file a claim. If someone died from the vaccine, the claim must be filed within two years of the death and four years from the onset of symptoms.

Learn more about filing deadlines.

Q: Is autism considered a vaccine-related adverse event?

Autism is dealt with through an ombudsman who works through the VICP and the U.S. Federal Court. Over the years, the case for autism and vaccines has changed, and the way the courts regard it has also changed.

To find the latest information about the VICP and autism, read about the autism omnibus proceedings at the HHS website and the U.S. Federal Courts website.

Q: How long will it take to see a claim through the system and get paid?

It may take two to three years to work through the process.

Q: What is the likelihood of receiving a payment from the VICP?

It depends on the vaccine and the resulting adverse event.

In general, about one-third of the claims result in compensation. For some vaccines, the likelihood is very high. (Example: Of eight claims for injuries from the Tdap vaccine, seven were compensated and only one was turned down). For others, the likelihood of compensation is very low. (Example: Of 273 claims for injuries from the polio vaccine, 266 were turned down.)

Q: Where does the money paid out to claimants come from?

In 1988, with the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, a trust fund was established to be sure people who had been injured from vaccines would have a no-fault way to be compensated.

The money in the trust fund comes from a 75 cent tax on each vaccine dose, per disease prevented. (For example: The flu vaccine prevents one flu, so the tax is 75 cents. The MMR vaccine prevents three diseases, so the tax is $2.25.)

Reports on the fund's income and expenditures can be found through the U.S. Treasury Department.

Oversight for the entire VICP program is shared by three departments of the U.S. government: Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Q: How do I file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

You will need an attorney to file on your behalf. There are attorneys who specialize in handling these claims. Even when someone's claim is denied, the court may award attorney fees so the claimant does not incur a cost in making the claim.

Q: I think I have a claim. Where can I find an attorney to help me?

The National Vaccine Information Center maintains a list of attorneys who deal specifically with VICP claims. You can find their list of attorneys on the NVIC website.

Q: My question wasn't answered here. Where can I find more information?

Much more information can be found at the VICP website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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