Schexnaydre Law Firm, LLC

Can You Spot A Vaccine Injury?

By David Schexnaydre, Esq.

In the 1950s, a typical two-year-old child received 5 injections for 4 diseases. Today, that number has grown to 24 injections for 14 diseases. To be sure, the vaccine industry is growing and with it is an increase in the number of vaccine injuries. The issue for lawyers and parents is whether you can spot a vaccine injury when presented with one.  

Actions for vaccine injuries cannot be brought in just any state or federal court. They must be brought in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC, by an attorney admitted to practice before that court of special jurisdiction. Since all vaccine injury cases must be filed there, it is informally referred to as "Vaccine Court."

The Vaccine Court was established in 1986 via the National Childhood Vaccine Act of 1986 ("the Act"), which established the no-fault National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and is the result of the federal government recognizing that some patients are, in fact, injured by the administration of vaccines. The following are the injuries you should be ready to recognize if faced with complaints of these symptoms by a client or a loved one. They are referred to as "Table Injuries" because they are set forth in the Vaccine Injury Table as part of the Act. If any of the following injuries are experienced within the specified time frame after administration of the vaccine (and lasts for over 6 months), then the injury qualifies for compensation under the Act:

1. Tetanus Toxoid Vaccines, including DTaP, DTP, DT, Td, or TT: Look for (a) anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock within 4 hours of administration of the vaccine, (b) brachial neuritis between 2 and 28 days of administration, or (c) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of those injuries during the same time periods.

2. Pertussis Vaccines, including DTP, DTaP, DTP-Hib: Look for (a) anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock within 4 hours of administration of the vaccine, (b) encephalopathy or encephalitis within 72 hours of administration, or (c) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of those injuries during the same time periods.

3. Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccines, including MMR, MR, M, R: Look for (a) anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock within 4 hours of administration of the vaccine, (b) encephalopathy or encephalitis between 5 and 15 days of administration, or (c) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of those injuries during the same time periods.

4. Vaccines containing Rubella, including MMR, MR, R: Look for (a) chronic arthritis between 7 and 42 days of administration, or (b) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of the arthritis during the same time periods.

5. Vaccines containing Measles, including MMR, MR, M: Look for (a) thrombocytopenic purpura between 7 and 30 days of administration, (b) vaccine strain measles viral infection in an immunodeficient recipient within 6 months of administration, or (c) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of those injuries during the same time periods.

6. Vaccine containing the active Polio virus (OPV): Look for (a) paralytic polio within 30 days for non-immunodeficient recipients or 6 months for immunodeficient recipients, (b) vaccine strain polio infection within 30 days for non-immunodeficient recipients or 6 months for immunodeficient recipients, or (c) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of those injuries during the same time periods.

7. Vaccine containing the inactive Polio virus (IPV): Look for (a) anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock within 4 hours of administration of the vaccine, or (b) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of that injury during the same time period.

8. Hepatitis B Vaccines: Look for (a) anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock within 4 hours of administration of the vaccine, or (b) any acute complication of sequela (including death) arising out of that injury during the same time period.

If other injuries are sustained as a result of the above vaccines, or if injuries are sustained as a result of vaccines not listed above, a claim can still be brought, with some exceptions, but the injury will not be presumed to have been caused by the vaccine. Rather, causation must be established through expert testimony and other evidence. 

Be aware of the statute of limitations in vaccine injury claims. First of all, the symptoms must last for more than 6 months from administration of the vaccine. If that occurs, then a claim must be brought within 3 years from the time of the first symptom.

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