WASHINGTON (TND) —Steve Wenger says he started having trouble walking in May 2021, seven days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
He was eventually paralyzed from the waist down and had to go to the hospital. His hands became so weak that he couldn't lift a glass of water. In the clinical notes, his Mayo Clinic doctor referred to an autoimmune disease called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) when he said it was "triggered by the COVID vaccine."
I spent 98 days in hospital and it was 98 days of absolute hell," Wenger said.
It is almost impossible to sue a vaccine company for injuries caused by a COVID vaccine, due to the liability protections under the Public Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness Act or the PREP Act. Years ago, Congress deemed these safeguards necessary to "ensure that countermeasures that could save lives are effectively developed, implemented, and managed," according toCongressional Research Service.
Instead of filing a lawsuit, people injured by the COVID vaccine can apply for compensation from the government through the Injury Compensation Program (CICP). Wenger says he applied for him in October 2021. A year and a half later, he's still waiting to see if he's eligible.
Wenger is not alone in the waiting process. His statement is one ofmore than 8 thousandothers allege injury or death as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine. Zero such claims have been cleared since March 1.Twenty-one were deemed eligible for compensation.but not paid. Three hundred have been turned away since March 29.
Wenger says he thinks his claim should be a "full batch endorsement" based on the government's own figures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says yes.follow-up of post-vaccination reports for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a neurological disorder that sometimes causes paralysis andaccording to experts, it is related to CIDP. One of the latest analyzes of government data published in the journalJournal of the American Medical Associationidentified 295 reports of GBS after COVID vaccination and concluded that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was associated with an increased risk of GBS.
Wenger can walk again today, albeit with pain and only for short distances. His health problems add to his worries about how to pay for them. Wenger says he was unable to work for all of 2021 and has been receiving Social Security disability benefits since January 2022. He regularly treats the injury: IVIG infusions every two weeks and rituximab every six months. In October, he told The National Desk that he believed his medical bills and lost wages to date were between $150,000 and $200,000. He says his father helped pay for his ongoing treatment and medical bills.
"Financially, it's basically destroying us," Wenger said during another interview in March.
Wenger says he finds it "disgusting" how difficult it is for a person injured by a COVID vaccine to receive compensation from the government, the same government that has pushed and in many cases required Americans to receive the vaccine.
"We were asked to do our part to 'slow the spread,'" he wrote in an October email to officials at the Health Resources and Services Administration, which runs the government's vaccine compensation programs. "Well, we've done our part! Now it's time for the federal government to do its part!"
FAILURES IN THE CICP PROGRAM
The Countermeasures Program, or CICP, is deeply flawed, say several experts. In the years 2010-2021, it offset this6% of all non-COVID related claims(29 of 491 claims), for a total of $6 million in prizes. Most of the claims were for the H1N1 flu vaccine. Since the inclusion of the COVID vaccine and other COVID-related countermeasures, the total number of claims has skyrocketed to nearly 12,000, resulting in a gigantic backlog.
The countermeasures program is basically a black hole. You have the right to sue and lose," says Renee Gentry, director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic at George Washington University Law School. "I don't think it was ever anticipated to handle the number of vaccinations that occurred during COVID".
CICP employment levels appear to have increased as a result of increased claims, according to information from a FOIA submission by Wayne Rohde, who has written two books on vaccine injury compensation. The CICP had six federal employees and six contractors in fiscal year 2021. Actual/estimated staff increased to 42 federal employees and 12 contractors in 2022, then 42 federal employees and 20 contractors in 2023.
Budget levels have also increased dramatically. Actual/estimated employee and contractor budgets were less than $3 million in fiscal 2021, then more than $5 million in 2022, then $9.5 million in 2023. Actual/estimated compensation budget increased from less than $1 million in 2021 to USD 5 million in 2023.
But despite the increased resources, thousands of applications are still waiting in the queue.
Many lawyers and other advocates are pushing for the transfer of COVID vaccines to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which functions like a court, not an administrative process. It covers most routinely administered vaccines, such as childhood immunizations and seasonal flu shots, and has a higher compensation rate. From the 2006 to 2021 programcleared nearly three quarters of all claims processed(7,418 of 10,342 requests) and has paid out approximately $4.9 billion since 1988.
VICP has several other advantages. You can compensate for pain and suffering and pay attorneys' fees that are not covered by the CICP. VICP does not limit lost earnings while CICP limits lost earnings to $50,000 per year. The VICP also has a three-year injury reporting window, as opposed to the one-year CICP.
There are three obstacles to bringing COVID vaccines to the VICP. The first appears to have been recently cleaned when the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrecommendedinjections for routine administration to children. Second, Congress must pass a special tax to fund the compensation program, and third, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must add injections to the Vaccine Injury Table, which lists injuries and conditions associated with certain vaccines.
HHS did not respond to a request for comment on when the secretary would change the vaccine injury table or when COVID vaccines could be donated to the VICP.
Even if a transfer does go through, it is still unclear if the likes of Wenger will be eligible. If the VICP does not cover people who have already applied for the CICP or who received a COVID vaccine that was not fully approved at the time of vaccination (i.e. excluded.
“I think the optics in Congress would be spectacularly bad if the people who came out and did their civic duty and got vaccinated were left out and future vaccines weren't,” Gentry said. "They really need to figure it out ASAP."
VICP isn't perfect either. There are still almost 4,000 applications pending, and moving the COVID vaccines from the CICP to the VICP would triple the delay. Petitioners expect on averagetwo to three yearsfor their cases to be resolved.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle tried to reform both the CICP and the VICP, but the legislation didn't go very far. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, cosponsored one such bill last year, and his office told The National Desk that he would "evaluate all possible avenues" for compensation in the current Congress.
“The first step in securing compensation is getting the medical institution and federal agencies to admit that the injuries caused by the COVID-19 vaccine are real,” the statement said.
Even worse than a long wait, according to some claimants, is a refusal.
Cody Flint applied for CICP in May 2021. He previously spoke withNational Officelater that year, describing how he developed a "severe, throbbing headache" within 30 minutes of receiving a vaccine from Pfizer, then nearly passed out two days later while flying in a plane while spraying crops. He had two ear surgeries and his doctor said his health problems were probably caused by the vaccine. He says he didn't have insurance at the time, which left him with around $60,000 in medical bills.
After a year of waiting for the CICP's decision, Flint's case came to lightSession of the Senate Budget Subcommitteewhen Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, confronted Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra over COVID vaccine injury claims.
Can you tell me what you are going to do to address the thousands of claims that are currently pending with HHS and what you are doing to make the CICP process more transparent so that Americans like Mr. Flint receive adequate compensation within a period of time. reasonable? " she asked.
Becerra responded that many Americans are suffering from "prolonged COVID." He also noted that in some cases, government money earmarked for COVID-19 has been used fraudulently.
“We want to make sure that no one is trying to cheat the system to get relief for something that doesn't exist,” Becerra said. "That way we can reserve the funds we have for people like Mr. Flint and help him out." Becerra added that he would be open to having his team contact Hyde-Smith about Flint's vaccine injury claim.
Three weeks later, the CICP rejected Flint's claim.
The CICP letter said there was no strong evidence that the vaccine caused Flint's alleged injuries. "Flying barotrauma," that is, discomfort in the ear often caused by changes in altitude, also known as "airplane ear," was found to be a known cause of perilymphatic fistulas, which is one of the diagnoses Flint received from your doctor.
But Flint says he wasn't flying high enough to experience barotrauma. Flint says that during his 15 years as a farm pilot, the highest altitude he typically needed to fly was about 500 feet above the ground to turn the plane around. He says that he was only 200 feet above the ground at the time of the incident. By contrast, commercial airlines often pressurize their cabins to an altitude equivalent to nearly 8,000 feet above sea level.
It's like saying I had a barotrauma while climbing on top of a tree," Flint told The National Desk.
Flint's doctor also rejected the CICP's decision and asked them to reconsider.
"Mr. Flint experienced severe head pressure within an hour of receiving the COVID vaccine," Louisiana neurotologist Gerard Gianoli wrote. This is the cause of Mr. Flint's elevated intracranial pressure ... [which] led to his perilymphatic fistula. "
Flint appealed his case, but it was rejected again. The letter stated: "Given the symptom schedule, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was not likely to cause the otologic and vestibular problems that Mr. Flint experienced."
Flint describes the refusal as "ridiculous."
Shoot... wounded in 48 hours. They say it's unlikely? Flint wrote in an email.
Flint works as a truck driver because his health forced him to quit his job spraying crops.
"Now I have no choice. I cannot sue," he told The National Desk. "It is clear to me that there is no way [CICP] would approve a pilot who was nearly disabled in flight."
WHAT IS CONSIDERED VACCINE DAMAGE?
In general, it is difficult to predict what qualifies as COVID vaccine damage. This is because the government has not released a table outlining COVID vaccine-related injuries, as is the case withcountermeasures against pandemic flu and smallpox.
According to New York-based vaccine injury attorney Robert Krakow, it can be much more difficult to obtain compensation when the specific type of injury is not listed on the VICP injury table.
Table lesion is when it is understood that if a vaccine lesion occurs within a certain period of time, it was caused by the vaccine. It's a presumption," Krakow said. “However, for a non-table related injury, it is something that is not considered caused. You need to have expert opinions with medical experts, which are very expensive. And with less common injuries, it's almost impossible to prove."
Because CICP is an administrative process, not a court, there is no way for an independent master or special judge to make a decision on a claim, says Peter Meyers, former director of the Forensic Clinic for Criminal Justice.
"The decision about compensation is made by an unknown HHS official, and the reasons why this official grants or denies compensation are essentially unknown," Meyers said. "All he will get, 90% of the time, is a letter that is not made public and tells him that his claim has been denied because he has not convinced us that the vaccine caused it."
Despite the lack of an injury table, 21 COVID vaccine compensation claims have so far been found eligible for compensation, the majority of which involved myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Others include pericarditis (swelling of the tissue surrounding the heart), angioedema (swelling under the skin), and anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction).
HRSA did not say if there were plans to create an injury table for the COVID vaccine when asked by The National Desk.
"According to the Act, the claimant must demonstrate that the covered injury was suffered as a direct result of the administration or application of the covered remedy, and the program can only provide compensation if there is compelling, credible, and valid medical and scientific evidence to support it. support this causal relationship," HRSA wrote in an email. "If the table is developed, it will be published in the Federal Register, open for public comment, and posted on the CICP website."
HIGH STANDARD OF TESTING
There is another layer of difficulty for claimants. The CICP requires "compelling, credible, valid medical and scientific evidence" that the vaccine directly caused the injury - a very high standard - unlike the VICP, which only requires "predominance of evidence" that the adverse event is more likely than not. not caused by the vaccine.
Additionally, applicants do not necessarily have medical experts and lawyers assisting them, as is customary with VICPs.
"How exactly is an ordinary person supposed to show compelling, credible, valid, medical and scientific evidence of causation with more weight than we have to show in the VICP without a lawyer or experts?" Gentry asked in an email.
Michelle Zimmerman asks similar questions.
In March 2021, Zimmerman received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and felt pain in his arm within five minutes, and his tongue and throat began to swell after about 20 minutes. He followed a shocking cascade of other adverse events. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow.
Zimmerman's doctors attribute his symptoms to the vaccine, with one describing his condition as a "serious post-vaccination reaction." He still completely medically disabled, still without medical clearance to go back to work, drive, or even do cardio.”
Zimmerman estimates that his total financial losses exceed $400,000. This includes medical bills, which he says his insurance consistently refuses to cover, lost wages and part-time care. Her parents were supposed to be retired, but they still worked to support her.
Zimmerman applied for compensation from CICP in October 2021, but says he was not assigned a case number until January of this year and continues to receive conflicting messages from CICP regarding his submitted medical records. HRSA told The National Desk that it did not comment on individual complaints filed with the CICP for privacy reasons.
In addition to concerns about the difficulty of filing claims, Zimmerman says he considers it "unethical" to expect vaccine-injured people to prove their case to the government for themselves.
It would be unthinkable to require a cancer patient during treatment to take it upon himself to read medical journals from researchers and specialists, to learn new medical vocabulary, to argue convincingly with new vocabulary and legal processes, and to require him to prove legally and medically that he has cancer, with no guidance other than "convince," no expert assistance, no updated diagnoses (or codes) provided to their doctors to list in their records, all in less than a year," he said in an email. "This It is what is required of the wounded after vaccination.”
There is little an attorney can do to help COVID vaccine injury cases, says Phyllis Widman, a New Jersey-based vaccine injury attorney who has handled many VICP cases for about eight years. Unlike a vaccine court where VICP claims are filed, the CICP does not offer the attorney the ability to subpoena medical records, present oral arguments, or request a hearing.
"I feel like a lawyer, I have no control over what happens," Widman said. “I'm used to being able to rush to court for an intervention, and I can't do that at the CICP. Affected customers are lost."
Even those who choose to pay for the services of a lawyer or medical expert will not be covered for these expenses under the CICP program as they are under the VICP.
"Without paying their expert fees, those affected by the COVID-19 vaccine have their hands absolutely tied," says Chris Dreisbach, Director of Vaccine Injuries. "These cases often come down to a battle of experts."
Sam Dreisbach received the Pfizer vaccine in March 2021 and has since been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuritis. He says he experienced involuntary muscle contractions, a modified gait, back pain, "occipital neuralgia" or headache, mental confusion and electrical impulses from head to toe.
He says it's difficult for applicants to meet the CICP's standards of evidence, given that there is still a lot of research to be done on people who have been injured by the COVID vaccine.
We beg and beg that we be investigated so that studies can be carried out to which the experts will later refer to to verify that the vaccine directly harmed us, ”he said.
Dreisbach also has a problem with the program's one-year application period, noting that he didn't receive his own diagnosis until more than a year after he was vaccinated.
"It often takes more than a year for those affected by the vaccine to understand the nature and extent of their injuries," he said.
Pfizer did not respond to a question about post-vaccination adverse events from Dreisbach and Flint.
When asked about the health of Wenger and Zimmerman, Johnson & Johnson said it was carefully reviewing adverse event reports.
"Serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare," the company said. “Each report of a person receiving our COVID-19 vaccine, and our evaluation of that report, is shared with the US Food and Drug Administration and other appropriate health authorities.”
PAIN AND SUFFERING
Others may not apply for CICP in the first place due to the limited benefits of the program.
Olivia Teseniar was one of the first Americans to be vaccinated in 2020 as a participant in the Moderna vaccine trial. She says that after the first shot she had "very bad" shoulder pain in the same arm where she received the shot, as well as a low-grade fever and fatigue. She says the doctor at the study site approved the second dose of her, even after Teseniar told the doctor that she still had pain in her shoulder and that she couldn't lift it all the way. (The research center says it takes the well-being and safety of patients very seriously, but cannot comment on individual cases.) Four days after the second dose, she says she woke up "terribly sick" with a fever and "extreme pressure in the head."
I felt like something was really wrong with me," he said. "I had confusion. I had cramps, like in the head, especially with eye movements. I had trouble picking things up. I was dropping things. I had trouble walking properly. I walked like my legs were made of sticks. I couldn't remember how do you spell my name. I couldn't read."
Teseniar says that most of the neurological problems eventually went away, but then she became more aware of her shoulder pain. An MRI revealed tissue damage that required surgery on his arm, followed by a second operation to remove lymph nodes under the same arm. And then he developed seroma, the accumulation of bodily fluids that can occur after surgery, requiring a third operation to insert a drain.
His orthopedic surgeon confirmed in writing that he had suffered "adverse effects from the vaccine." The doctor at the research center where Teseniar received the vaccine also wrote that she "has had various health problems since the vaccination" and recommended that she not receive a booster shot.
His health deteriorated the following year. In April 2022, Teseniar was diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that manifested as an uncomfortable, blistering rash all over the skin. She says the medications she started taking caused her hair loss, irregular heartbeat, and extreme dizziness. She also experienced an unusually heavy and frequent menstrual cycle, after which she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids and underwent a hysterectomy in September 2022. Physician notes in support of causation.
Similar reports of Teseniara have appeared in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a public database used by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to monitor the safety of vaccines. A database search for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, T-cell lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which are COVID vaccine-associated diseases, yielded a total of 36 reports. The search for irregular menstruation returned 3931 entries and the search for hysterectomy returned 94 entries. A disclaimer on the VAERS website states that the reports "may contain incomplete, inaccurate, incidental, or unverifiable information" and that "VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine whether a vaccine caused or contributed to an event, side effect or illness".
Moderna did not respond to a request for comment.
The CICP would be of little help to Teseniar. Her insurance had already covered the medical expenses and she would not be able to claim lost wages because she was not working at the time she was vaccinated. There would only be compensation for pain and suffering, which the CICP does not cover.
Dreisbach believes that the lack of compensation for pain and suffering is "absolutely unacceptable."
“The concept of damages in a lawsuit is that the injured party must be healed,” he said. "The question is, 'How will you reward me for days in the bathtub? How do you compensate me for not being able to go to my son's lacrosse game? The answer is you can't. All you can do is try to replace the monetary amount".
For Zimmerman, the pain and suffering came last month when his doctor issued him a "permanently disabled" parking plate. She was hoping for a temporary one-year renewal. "She made me cry," she said.
“I assured people who were hesitant to get vaccinated that they would not be experimented on and injured as people have historically done. I assured them that the ethical protocol had since been developed,” she said. "I'm learning that what I learned as a researcher doesn't apply in the real world."
If you believe you've experienced a SIRVA injury, you may be entitled to up to $250,000 in compensation for your pain, suffering, and anguish, as well as: Compensation for your lost ability to produce income. Medical bills.What is the National Vaccine compensation Act? ›
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PDF - 312 KB), as amended, created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system. It provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines.How much has the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program paid out? ›
Since its inception to May 2023, it has awarded a total of $4.6 billion, with the average award amount between 2006 and 2020 being $450,000, and the award rate (which varies by vaccine) being 1.2 awards per million doses administered.Are there long term effects of Covid after being vaccinated? ›
Even vaccinated people with mild breakthrough COVID-19 infections can experience debilitating, lingering symptoms that affect the heart, brain, lungs and other parts of the body, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System.How long does it take to get settlement from SIRVA? ›
SIRVA cases can generally take anywhere from several months to several years to settle. If you are pursuing compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), the process typically takes several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the case and the backlog of claims.Can you get compensation for COVID vaccine side effects? ›
In very rare cases, a vaccine can cause a serious problem, such as a severe allergic reaction. In these instances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a VICP-covered vaccine.What must be documented under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act? ›
Federal law (under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) requires a healthcare professional to provide a copy of the current VIS to an adult patient or to a child's parent/legal representative before vaccinating an adult or child with a dose of the following vaccines: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps ...Which of the following is are required by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986? ›
Specifically, all health-care providers who administer one or more of these vaccines or toxoids are required to ensure that there is recorded in the vaccine recipient's permanent medical record (or in a permanent office log or file) the date the vaccine was administered, the manufacturer and lot number of the vaccine, ...Who does the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act cover? ›
On April 30, 2003, the President signed into law the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 ("SEPPA"), which established a no-fault program ("the Program") to provide benefits and/or compensation to certain individuals, including health-care workers and emergency responders, who are injured as the result ...How to make a vaccine injury claim? ›
To be compensated by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), you must file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and a copy of the petition must sent to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The VICP has a strict statute of limitations for vaccine injury claims. If you or someone you love was injured, you must file within 3 years after the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of significant aggravation of the injury.When was the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program established? ›
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, as amended, created a unique mechanism for compensating persons injured by vaccinations.Does COVID cause heart problems? ›
Three years after COVID-19 first appeared, over 750 million people in the world have been infected with the coronavirus disease. Recent research has shown that some of these people are more likely to experience cardiovascular issues, such as an irregular heartbeat, stroke and heart failure.What are the rare side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine? ›
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in people who have received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is rare. GBS is a rare disorder where the body's immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. GBS has largely been reported in men ages 50 years and older.Do people who have had Covid have more side effects from the vaccine? ›
The next time you encounter the pathogen, these responses will kick in faster and stronger, because your immune system is already primed to recognise and respond to it. This is why people who have already recovered from COVID-19 may experience more of these mild reactions.Can I sue if I have SIRVA? ›
In order to recover monetary damages from the Vaccine Program, individuals who suffer a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (also known as SIRVA), must first file a lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.How long does it take to settle a vaccine injury case? ›
With some exceptions, it usually is. A hearing on whether the vaccine caused the injury often occurs within a year. Cases that settle can conclude in as little as a year. Other cases, despite our best efforts, can take several years.What is the prognosis for SIRVA? ›
A SIRVA injury may heal within a few months with the right treatment plant. Others may experience chronic pain, and they will continue to go to physical therapy or take pain killers to manage their symptoms for the rest of their life.Is SIRVA permanent? ›
These injuries, referred to as “shoulder injury related to vaccine administration” (SIRVA), typically occur moments to days after vaccine injection and can result in prolonged and even permanent shoulder dysfunction.