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.
What Interferes with Successful Breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding is ideal, it comes with many difficulties new parents might face.
After experiencing the intensity of labor and delivery, many new parents are left exhausted. Despite this fatigue and surviving pospartum, new parents soon learn the importance of managing the needs of an infant. Putting aside their own desires, parents learn to quickly adapt.
Exhaustion and recovery are not the only things that discourage parents from breastfeeding. There are a variety of other woes that can make it difficult for a lactating parent to continue to choose this option.
While 83 percent of women breastfeed at the beginning of postpartum, there is a drastic reduction by 6 months, resulting in only 56% of babies still being breastfed.
When a lactating woman’s milk comes in, she may experience intense pain and discomfort. The breasts typically become overly filled with milk because they have not yet regulated their supply. This engorgement can continue throughout the breastfeeding journey for a variety of reasons.
If the baby’s schedule changes, a woman’s breasts can become overly full. If the parent misses a feeding, breasts can experience discomfor which can lead to breastfeeding infection. If a woman becomes preoccupied at work and does not make time to pump, she can experience discomfort.
If breast engorgement is not treated properly, milk ducts can become blocked, and if a woman does not work to move the milk through her breasts (via feeding her baby, pumping, or expressing the milk), this engorgement can lead to further problems and may cause clogged milk ducts.
One of the biggest concerns beyond the pain a woman experiences with engorgement is infection. This is known as mastitis, and leads to a woman experiencing not only breast pain and warm breast tissue, but also flu-like symptoms that come with fever, chills, headache, and further exhaustion.
In order to help prevent infection, regular feedings are essential. Often, the best mastitis treatment, at least for early symptoms, is to massage the breast in a warm shower and express the extra milk.
Furthermore, by working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), parents can have a great resource on how to best deal with, treat, and alleviate these problems.
Not only is an IBCLC a great resource in helping prevent breast infection, but a great source for your breastfeeding journey to encourage and educate you in best practices.
The best way to achieve breastfeeding success is to utilize the many tools that an IBCLC offers.
To exclusively breastfeed your baby can be quite overwhelming and exhausting. Between nightly feedings, cluster feedings, and pumping sessions for working mothers, breastfeeding is difficult to maintain. Unless a woman is properly supported by her family, friends, and workplace, the chances that a woman will continue to breastfeed are significantly impacted.
Culture also impacts the likelihood of a baby being breastfed beyond 6 months. The CDC discovered that parents in the Southeast United States are less likely to breastfeed their children past six months. This was in contrast to the Northwest, where business policies and the culture is more breastfeeding-friendly and supportive.
Despite the nutritional benefits afforded to a breastfed baby, there are many obstacles that can be discouraging for parents on their breastfeeding journey. From exhaustion to pain to lack of supoort, parents have many reasons to give up.
To increase your chances of success, surround yourself with supportive individuals, reach out to an IBCLC, also known as lactation consultants, and gain the necessary tools required to provide your child with the healthiest option available – you!
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