When my daughter brought home a flyer from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the H1N1 vaccine I didn’t think much about it and set it aside. I had heard so many pros and cons on the news, through friends relaying information from their personal doctors and on talk radio, and had already made my decision not to take the vaccine.
What finally caught my eye was a section that talked about vaccine injury compensation. I had never heard of anything like this and I was of course curious. It first states that the vaccine is being provided on a voluntary basis, but that state law or employers might require certain persons to be vaccinated. It states that if a reaction occurs, you have a limited ability to sue. But, the paper went on to say that there is a federal program that might pay for medical care and some other expenses of certain persons in the event they have a serious reaction to the vaccine. Additional information regarding the program can be found at hrsa.gov.
I know manufacturers have gone almost silly with all their waivers of liability such as ‘be careful, hot coffee is hot’, and ‘don’t use a toilet on the back of an RV when it is in motion’, but I have never seen a notice for vaccine injury compensation.
Persons eligible to file a claim include yourself if injured, the parent of a child that is injured, the representative of an estate where a person’s death may have been caused by the H1N1 vaccine, and you do not have to be a United States citizen. To qualify you should have suffered ill effects for at least six months or were hospitalized for surgery as a direct cause of injury, or lost your life as a result of the injury from the vaccine.
What are the risks? The CDC specifically lists the possibility of a severe allergic reaction in persons who are allergic to egg products. Be aware that the vaccine is developed using a chicken egg, and don’t take a chance. The signs of a severe reaction could include hives, difficulty breathing, a rapid heart beat, dizziness and wheezing. Mild problems could include injection site soreness or swelling, muscle aches, nausea, fever and headache, which are also common with the annual seasonal flu vaccine. According to the vaccine information statement, you should wait until you are healthy if you are already ill from other causes, not including the common cold.
Swine flu has symptoms very much like the seasonal flu but they can become more severe and at a faster rate. The CDC states that the H1N1 virus should run its course in a week, but that some people may develop pneumonia and need to be hospitalized.