The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was established in 1986 to provide compensation for severe adverse effects resulting from eligible vaccines, primarily aimed at addressing vaccine hesitancy sparked by concerns related to the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. Media sensationalism and celebrity endorsements of vaccine avoidance fueled disruptions in vaccine distribution, prompting stakeholders to appeal to Congress for a nationwide compensation program.

To file a claim, individuals must submit a petition with medical records to the US Court of Federal Claims and the Division of Injury Compensation Programs within the accepted time frame. Eligibility for VICP compensation extends to US citizens who received an eligible vaccine domestically or abroad. The program covers various injuries, including anaphylaxis and shoulder injuries, with a list available on the Health Resources & Services Administration website. Claimants can enlist legal help, but a $400 filing fee is required, though financial assistance is offered. The stringent criteria and lengthy process contribute to a 34% success rate and a waiting period of up to 3 years for adjudication. Despite offering up to $250,000 in compensation, the VICP's success rate is lower than in some other countries, such as Japan.

Over 25,000 claims have been filed since 1988, with fluctuations in yearly petitions influenced by new vaccines and episodes of medical conspiracy, like the surge in autism-related complaints following media coverage between 1998 and 2003. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in vaccinations, prompting the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) to handle related complaints. However, its limited authority resulted in inefficiency, with only 4 compensations out of 12,025 petitions. Representatives Lloyd Doggett and Lloyd Smucker introduced the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act (HR 3655) in 2021 to transfer COVID-19 vaccine complaints to the VICP, adjust compensation awards, increase the number of judicial authorities, and extend the complaint deadline to 5 years after vaccination. HR 3655 is anticipated to bring a significant update to the 36-year-old legislation.


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