The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation to individuals and families who are coping with the effects of vaccine-related illnesses and injuries. The VICP covers many different types of illnesses and injuries, and it also covers many different vaccines—including all vaccines currently recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for routine administration to adults and children. However, as vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant explains, the vast majority of VICP claims involve injuries from the annual flu shot.
Three Quarters of VICP Claims Involve Flu Shot-Related Illnesses and Injuries
According to data from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), which is the federal agency that administers the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of all claims filed under the VICP in the past two years have involved flu shot-related illnesses and injuries. This represents a significant increase as compared to prior years. Over the lifespan of the VICP – which Congress created in 1988 – of the 21,341 claims filed through the end of the program’s 2020 fiscal year, 6,607 (just over 30 percent) have pertained to illnesses and injuries linked to the flu shot.
However, even this historical number is significant. Following the flu shot, the former diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine has the next-highest number of associated claims at 3,287. Among vaccines currently recommended by the CDC, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has the next-highest VICP claim total at 1,006. So, as you can see, the number of flu shot-related illnesses and injuries is much higher than the number of illnesses and injuries associated with any other CDC-recommended immunization.
What Accounts for the Relatively High Number of Flu Shot Illnesses and Injuries?
Why is this the case? What accounts for the significant disparity in the number of illnesses and injuries linked to the annual flu shot as compared to other CDC-recommended immunizations? Three factors stand out as being likely contributors:
1. The Annual Flu Shot is the Most Common Vaccine in the United States
First, the annual flu shot is the most common vaccine in the United States by a significant margin. Each year about half of the U.S. population gets immunized; and, for the 2020-2021 flu season, the CDC reported that vaccine manufacturers projected producing as many as 198 million doses of the influenza vaccine. This number is more than 20 million greater than the record 175 influenza vaccine doses manufactured during the 2019-2020 flu season.
Aside from the flu shot, the CDC does not currently recommend the routine administration of any other vaccine on an annual basis. The only other vaccine for which the CDC recommends a life-time immunization schedule is the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap or Td) vaccine—the CDC currently recommends a booster shot every 10 years. As a result, the sheer volume of flu shots administered in the United States each year in comparison to the number of other vaccines administered may explain the disparity in the number of illnesses and injuries linked to influenza immunization.
2. The Flu Shot is Administered Via Shoulder Injection
Second, the annual flu shot is administered via shoulder injection. This means that the annual flu shot presents the risk for shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). Shoulder bursitis, brachial neuritis and other forms of SIRVA are among the most-common vaccine-related injuries; and, according to HRSA, more than half (54 percent) of all VICP petitions filed in the past two years have involved claims pertaining to SIRVA.
Shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration result not from adverse reactions, but rather from physical damage caused by errors during immunization. For example, if the person administering a flu shot inserts the needle too high on the patient’s arm, this can result in a flu shot-related shoulder injury. This error is particularly common with the flu shot, as it typically results from rushing the procedure and having a patient pull down his or her collar instead of rolling up his or her sleeve.
3. Several Illnesses and Injuries are Linked to the Flu Vaccine
Third, various illnesses and injuries are linked to the flu vaccine. While this is not unique to the flu vaccine, it is nonetheless a likely contributing factor for the relatively high number of flu shot-related illnesses and injuries each year. In addition to the various forms of SIRVA, anaphylaxis, Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) are all potentially-serious medical conditions associated with the influenza vaccine as well.
What Should You Do After Being Diagnosed with a Flu Shot Illness or Injury?
For individuals who are diagnosed with flu shot-related illnesses and injuries, and for parents and other family members who are coping with loved ones’ diagnoses, seeking financial compensation under the VICP is an important part of the recovery process. The VICP provides compensation on a no-fault basis (meaning that you do not need to prove fault in order to secure compensation), and it pays claimants’ legal fees separately from their awards of financial compensation. As a result, filing a VICP claim is very different from attempting to sue a health care provider or vaccine manufacturer. In the 32 years since the VICP’s formation, claimants have received more than $4.1 billion in total compensation.
You will want to determine if you are eligible to file a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program; and, if you are, you will want to get started on your claim as soon as possible. For more information about seeking compensation for a flu shot-related illness or injury, you can read:
- Who Can File a Vaccine Injury Claim?
- How Do You Prove a Vaccine Injury?
- HRSA, SIRVA, VICP? Making Sense of Your Vaccine Injury Claim
Schedule a Free Consultation with Vaccine Injury Lawyer Leah V. Durant
Would you like more information about filing a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for a flu shot-related illness or injury? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free consultation with national vaccine injury lawyer Leah V. Durant, please call 202-800-1711 or tell us about your claim online today.
Leah Durant Bio
Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.