Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Basics

As more Americans take vaccines from injury into well into their senior years, injuries from vaccines will inevitably follow. An ensuing injury of Guillain Barre syndrome from the flu vaccine is one of the most common claims.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established to provide compensation to those individuals who have suffered an illness, disability, injury, or even death from a vaccine. The standard by which the Court of Federal Claims determines a link is known as a preponderance of the evidence. Simply put, is it likely that the injury complained of was in fact caused by the vaccine.

To determine causation in a vaccine injury case, the special master (the term given to what is traditionally the judge in most civil matters) makes a finding of causation based on medical records and / or medical opinion. Simple claims of injury by the complainant or petitioner are not enough to warrant compensation. Besides examining medical and scientific evidence, the special master pays heavy attention to diagnoses or conclusions made by medical professionals regarding causation of the petitioner’s conditions. Medical professionals can also comment on residual long-term effects of the vaccine injury.


Many petitioners often find it difficult to get their treating providers to write an affidavit of causation linking the illness to the vaccine. Some treating providers do not feel qualified enough to make the connection, or they may have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, or they are leery of potential malpractice issues (although such fears are often unwarranted). In such cases, a vaccine injury attorney can draw on various experts including board certified neurologists, who can review the records and draft strong expert reports in favor of the petitioner.

The special master also reviews the results of evaluative tests such as CAT scans and MRIs , especially as they regard abnormal effects of the vaccine on brain activity. It is important to note that such evaluations are not binding on the special master, but they are parts of the overall calculation.

When relying on the Vaccine Injury Table , and whether the symptoms of injury occurred within the time period prescribed by the table, the special master carefully reviews the medical records to determine if whether the symptoms manifested themselves during the time period after the vaccine.

A vaccine injury lawyer must demonstrate the petitioner did not exhibit symptoms of disability or conditions prior to administration of the vaccine. Documentation of medical injury and short-term and long-term pain and suffering and economic damages are keys to a successful vaccine lawsuit .

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