Rolling out vaccines and booster shots across the U.S. marked crucial milestones in terms of healthcare and fighting the spread of COVID-19. However, an essential element is still missing: legal recourse for those who experience serious adverse side effects.
Current COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Claims
Currently, there are more than 1,300 pending injury claims related to side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. They are waiting to be heard by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a government tribunal that handles public health emergencies.
To date, this tribunal has only handled two such cases. One alleged the plaintiff suffered from severe tongue and throat swelling following the vaccine, while the other alleged long-term shoulder pain. Plaintiffs lost both cases and were denied compensation.
Given the comparatively new nature of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is challenging for plaintiffs to prove that their injuries directly resulted from the vaccine. Combined with the lack of research on long-term side effects, it is unlikely that plaintiffs will be able to meet this burden of proof anytime in the near future.
How COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Claims Are Handled
Of interest is that claims related to the COVID-19 vaccine are being heard by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) instead of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault government tribunal; known colloquially as “vaccine court.”
Formed in the late 1980s, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program responded to diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine claims. Pharmaceutical companies were listed as defendants in lawsuits related to vaccine side effects. However, the government created a separate entity to handle such cases when manufacturers threatened to stop producing vaccines altogether.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program could not hear cases until the COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended for routine administration to children, per a 1986 vaccine law. Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine would have to be subject to the same 75-cent tax imposed on other vaccines.
Compensation From the CICP
There are several differences between the two tribunals, which plaintiffs claim make the CICP inappropriate for COVID-19 vaccine injury litigation. Of these, compensation is one of the biggest causes for concern.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has awarded injured plaintiffs more than $4 billion since its inception. In comparison, the CICP has only awarded compensation for 29 of 455 cases— that means that 92 percent of plaintiffs are deemed ineligible or denied compensation. Compensation ranged from $31 to nearly $2.3 million, with a median award of roughly $5,600.
This is partly because compensation options from the CICP are much more limited. Plaintiffs can only claim lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses up to $50,000 per year or death benefits up to $370,376 in the case of a vaccine-related fatality.
Differences Between Vaccine Injury Compensation Programs
Below are other key differences between the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program:
- Plaintiffs do not have the opportunity to testify in court
- There is no independent judge or jury present
- Pain and suffering-related damages are not covered
- There is a limited right to appeal one’s case
This means that plaintiffs who file a case related to injuries allegedly caused by the COVID-19 vaccine are offered less compensation, less legal representation, and less recourse through appeals as opposed to plaintiffs who file a case for injuries caused by any other vaccine. Still, if you are experiencing symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine, it may be in your best interest to speak with an injury attorney.
How to Know if You’re Depressed
Are you depressed or just feeling down? Sometimes it’s hard to recognise where we sit on the depression scale. If you’re constantly experiencing feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness that can last for weeks, months, or even years; you may benefit from seeing an expert psychologist in Melbourne. This article should hopefully shine some light on the symptoms of depression, how to get help, and where to find support.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression is often defined as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest”. It’s more than just a bout of the blues, and it’s not simply a case of feeling sad after experiencing something upsetting. Rather, it’s an ongoing low mood that interferes with your everyday life and prevents you from enjoying activities that you used to love.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or “empty”
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed
- Feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy levels
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
- Appetite changes or weight gain/loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide
How do I know if I’m depressed or just sad?
While it’s normal to feel sad from time to time, you may be suffering from depression if these feelings last for more than two weeks and are interfering with your ability to live a normal life. Depression can also be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue and changes in appetite. If you’re unsure whether you’re depressed or just sad, it’s best to see a mental health professional for an assessment.
What causes depression and how can it be treated?
There is no single cause of depression, but it can be triggered by a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, hormones, and life events (such as trauma or loss). Depression is often treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In some cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may also be recommended.
How can I help a loved one who is depressed?
If you think a loved one may be depressed, the best thing you can do is encourage them to see a mental health professional. You can also offer your support and understanding, and let them know that they are not alone. If you’re worried that they may be suicidal, it’s important to talk to them about it directly.
With the right help, depression can be treated and you can regain your lease on life. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
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