AUSTIN (KXAN) — U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) has filed legislation to update the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to incorporate any pending COVID-19 vaccine injury claims.
Currently, COVID-19 vaccine injury claims are filed into the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. Under Doggett’s latest legislative proposal — the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act, filed alongside U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) — those COVID-related claims would file into the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
“Vaccines save lives, but in the rarest of cases, usually caused by an error in administration rather than the vaccine itself, they involve injury,” Doggett said in a statement. “While strongly disagreeing with the dangerous misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers, I believe that those who suffer rare injuries associated with vaccines, including those to fight COVID-19, should receive prompt, reasonable compensation for medical bills and other losses.”
Doggett added in a statement the current system includes “unreasonable delays.” He said the decision to categorize COVID-19 vaccine injury claims separate from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has resulted in an “even more inadequate governmental program” used to process those COVID-related ones.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was created in 1986 as a resource for individuals who have sustained vaccine-related injuries. In the release, legislators said the program has not been substantially updated since its initial introduction and now faces a “significant case backlog.”
The COVID-19 vaccines were initially categorized under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program since the vaccines were first granted with emergency authorizations, according to the release. While those vaccines have since received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration and added to vaccine schedules, their compensation statuses haven’t been relegated to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
More than 7,700 claims exist and are still under consideration, according to the release.
“Unlike the VICP, the CICP does not offer judicial review and claimants may only recoup medical and work-loss expenses that have not been compensated by other payors,” the release read in part. “The VICP offers stronger due process protections as well as damages for pain and suffering, though these damages are capped at 1986 levels.”
If passed and enacted, the proposed legislation would also extend the statute of limitations for any claims, expanding that timeframe from three years to five years. It would also expand on the specific types of vaccines eligible for coverage within the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program “by including vaccines and injuries recommended by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for routine administration in adults,” the release added.
The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where it currently resides.