Federal Officials Should Lift Liability Protection From COVID-19 Shots: Former HHS Official

By Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
and Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
November 24, 2021 Updated: November 24, 2021

The manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines and federal health officials should remove liability protection from the jabs if they insist on children getting vaccinated, a former Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official says.

“Leave the children alone,” Dr. Paul Alexander, a senior HHS official on COVID-19 pandemic policy during the Trump administration, told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program in a recent interview.

“If you cannot, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Walensky, Dr. Francis Collins, all of the vaccine manufacturers must come to the table and put liability protection on the table and remove it,” he added.

Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Rochelle Walensky heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Dr. Collins heads the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Trump administration invoked a law called the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or the PREP Act, in March 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.

The act enables the health secretary to issue a declaration providing liability immunity to certain people and entities against any claim of loss. That includes vaccine manufacturers and pharmacies.

The emergency declaration shifted where people go to ask for compensation if they believe they or a loved one has been harmed by a vaccine or other product, from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).

Just 40 claims have been deemed eligible for compensation by program administrators since 2010. None of the claims are related to COVID-19 products. No COVID-19-related claims have been approved as of Oct. 1; three have been denied.

The CICP has reported 1,357 claims made alleging injury or death from COVID-19 vaccines and 1,801 claims alleging injury or death from other COVID-19 countermeasures.

“The CICP is working to process claims as expeditiously as possible,” a spokesman from the Health Resources and Services Administration, which runs for program, told The Epoch Times in an email on Wednesday.

“For the majority of COVID-19 countermeasure claims, including COVID-19 vaccine claims, the CICP is still waiting for records and documentation to be submitted. Requesters are permitted to submit the necessary medical records after the claim is filed and this is the most significant factor in the processing time for CICP claims. The CICP makes forms accessible to requesters that they can use to request the required records from their medical providers and communicates with requesters concerning the submission of all required records,” he added.

The program was created, the spokesman previously said, “so that in the very unlikely event that an individual experiences a serious injury or death from a covered countermeasure, which includes COVID-19 vaccines, they might be considered for benefits.”

The only exception to the immunity from liability is when a person or entity engages in “willful misconduct,” or an act or omission that is taken “intentionally to achieve a wrongful purpose; knowingly without legal or factual justification; and in disregard of a known or obvious risk that is so great as to make it highly probable that the harm will outweigh the benefit.”

Epoch Times Photo
Syringes with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to children from 5-11 years old are seen at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Mich., on Nov. 5, 2021. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

“That’s one concern I have for something that President Trump did,” Alexander told The Epoch Times. “These people have been absolved from liability.”

Children are at low risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19 but Pfizer’s jab was authorized for kids as young as 5 last month because officials expressed concern about the 94 children between 5- and 11-years-old whose deaths were attributed to COVID-19 and the 8,400 children in that age group who required hospital care.

That’s a death rate of 0.004 percent and a hospitalization rate of 0.4 percent.

More deaths from influenza occurred among children 5- to 17-years-old in the 2019–20 flu season than those attributed to COVID-19 in the 5 to 11 group across about a year ending in September.

“Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission,” the CDC said in a statement after recommending every child in the age group get a jab.

Vaccine protection against infection drops significantly after peaking several months post-administration, according to studies and real-world data. The shots also drop in effectiveness over time against severe disease and hospitalization, though the slippage is much less significant.

Some parents and experts praised the authorization, saying it would help protect more children, and over three million kids between 5 and 11 have become fully vaccinated already, according to the CDC.

Critics like Alexander, though, say many children don’t need a shot and that the immunity protection granted to vaccine makers does not help give them confidence in the federal recommendations. They also note that medium- to long-term safety data is nonexistent.

“Why would I expose my child? You have no exposure,” Alexander. “So remove your protection. Give me some confidence as a parent, then we can talk about vaccinating my family. I know they don’t do that. But I’m telling you that’s the issue—remove the liability protection, then we will talk about vaccinating children. Until then, leave them alone.”

The NIAID declined to comment. HHS, the CDC, the NIH, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson did not respond to requests for comment.