Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and other Republican senators on March 11 introduced a bill to help people who suffered adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines.
“The federal government has encouraged all Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. While these vaccines have been miraculous and have helped save innumerable lives, there are always some who experience adverse reactions,” Lee said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the thousands of patients who have sought relief for adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines have not received compensation under the existing framework,” according to a summary of the bill (pdf) provided by his office.
“My Countermeasure Injury Compensation Amendment Act will help build trust in future medical treatments and to make sure those who were harmed are properly compensated,” Lee said.
The bill, which is cosponsored by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mass.), seeks to amend the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Act (CICP).
The CICP provides compensation for injuries due to products delivered during certain public health emergencies—specifically for injuries and deaths as a result of “covered countermeasures” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act).
Injuries due to COVID-19 vaccines are covered under the CICP, however, “it is extremely difficult to obtain awards under the CICP, particularly related to COVID-19 countermeasures,” according to the summary of the bill.
As of March 1, only 30 claims have been compensated, totaling more than $6 million. This is out of the 7,547 countermeasure claims filed under CICP for Fiscal Years 2010–2022.
The CICP has not compensated any of the COVID-19 countermeasures claims, of which there are 7,056 or 93.5 percent of all CICP claims.
Of the COVID-19 countermeasures claims, 4,097 allege injuries or deaths from COVID-19 vaccines, while 2,959 allege injuries or deaths from other COVID-19 countermeasures, such as use of a ventilator. The CICP noted it “does not maintain its aggregated data concerning alleged countermeasures, including vaccines, by specific manufacturer or trade name.”
Cody Flint, an agricultural pilot who suspects he has been seriously injured by taking the COVID-19 vaccine, told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks” program in an interview broadcast on Jan. 1 that people claiming injuries from the COVID-19 vaccine have no meaningful way to get compensated and have been ignored by the federal government.
“At this point, the government has totally abandoned us,” Flint said.
“The PREP Act stated that vaccine injuries were given an outlet to go seek compensation and financial help in the name of [the CICP] it’s an absolute joke. We are totally left in the dark.”
Currently, the CICP’s compensation is limited—capped $50,000 a year for lost employment income (lifetime cap is generally $379,000). A standard death benefit is $370,376 as of 2021. It doesn’t cover attorneys’ fees, pain-and-suffering damages, or punitive damages.
The VICP’s compensation is much broader than that of CICP. Besides the loss of earnings, it covers reasonable attorney fees and costs from medical care, rehabilitation, and vocational training. It also covers pain and suffering and emotional distress, capped at $250,000. For a vaccine-related death, the compensation amount is $250,000.
Vaccine-injured victims under VICP also have three years from the date of the first symptom to file the claim. CICP only allows people to file the claim within one year from receiving the vaccine.
The Republican-proposed legislation would reform the CICP to provide people seeking claims the same framework for adjudication, award determination, and statute of limitations as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)—the other federal compensation program for people who experienced serious adverse reactions to vaccines. The VICP provides compensation for cases related to other vaccines routinely given in the United States for pregnant women and children.
The bill would also create a commission to determine what injuries are directly caused as a result of COVID-19 countermeasures as covered under CICP, which includes COVID-19 vaccines, as well as require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to include injuries determined by the commission into the covered countermeasure injury table for COVID-19.
The bill would also allow claims that have been previously rejected to be resubmitted for new consideration.
Brianne Dressen, a Utah mother who experienced a serious adverse reaction as a participant in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, said of the proposed Republican bill, per Lee’s office: “What would this bill mean? It would mean those who are suffering adverse reactions will no longer have to decide between putting the bread on the table or picking up that critical prescription from the pharmacyor paying rent vs going to the doctor.
“For those of us waiting for critical compensation, this bill very well could be the difference between healing, and suffering and declining.”
A statement from Sen. Johnson’s office said that he has been an advocate for early treatment, healthcare freedom, and those who have suffered adverse reactions after having taken the COVID-19 vaccine.
“He will continue to advocate for the vaccine injured so their stories can be seen, heard and believed in order to get the treatment they need,” the senator’s office said.
Harry Lee contributed to this report.