Republicans Introduce Bill to Help Victims of COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Reactions

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com
March 13, 2022 Updated: March 13, 2022

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and other Republican senators introduced legislation on March 11 to help people who have 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.

A summary of the measure (pdf) provided by his office states that “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.”

Lee said, “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.”

The measure, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), seeks to amend the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program (CICP).

Issues With CICP

The CICP provides compensation for injuries that result from 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 because of 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.

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 through 2022.

The CICP hasn’t compensated any of the COVID-19 countermeasures claims, of which there are 7,056—or 93.5 percent of all CICP claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the COVID-19 countermeasures claims, 4,097 allege injuries or death from COVID-19 vaccines, while 2,959 allege injuries or death from other COVID-19 countermeasures, such as the use of a ventilator. The CICP said 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 was seriously injured by taking a COVID-19 vaccine, told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks” on Jan. 1 that people claiming injuries from the COVID-19 vaccines 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 at $50,000 per year for lost employment income (lifetime cap is generally $379,000). A standard death benefit was set at $370,376 in 2021. It doesn’t cover attorney fees, pain-and-suffering damages, or punitive damages.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)—the other federal compensation program for those who have suffered serious adverse reactions to vaccines, specifically for cases related to vaccines routinely given in the United States for pregnant women and children—provides compensation much broader than that of CICP.

Besides the loss of earnings, the VICP 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 is $250,000. Vaccine-injured victims under VICP 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 after receiving the vaccine.

The Bill’s Actions

The Republican-proposed legislation would reform the CICP to provide people seeking claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines the same framework for adjudication, award determination, and statute of limitations as the VICP.

The measure 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. It would also 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 legislation 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 measure, 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 pharmacy or 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 Johnson’s office said he’s been an advocate for early treatment, health care freedom, and those who have suffered adverse reactions after taking a 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.

Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com