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b2ap3_thumbnail_gbs-vccn.jpgGuillain-Barre syndrome, also known as GBS, is a rare condition in which an individual’s own immune system attacks their nerve endings. While there are different subvariants of GBS, the hallmark symptoms of the condition include weakness, numbness, tingling and for some individuals, paralysis. Fatigue is also often reported. More information about GBS can be found here.

The association between GBS and vaccination was initially suspected after a large-scale influenza vaccination effort in 1976 revealed an increased signal of GBS among the vaccinated population. Subsequent studies confirmed an association between GBS and the 1976 flu vaccination efforts.

While vaccine induced GBS is still considered a rare event, the association with flu vaccines is well established. As a result of this association, GBS is listed as a Table injury in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). As a Table injury, if a person who receives the vaccine (referred to as the “petitioner”) can establish that they developed GBS within 3-42 days of receiving the vaccination, then the injured person is likely to receive compensation.

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covid-19 vaccine injury compensationAs more Americans undergo vaccination for Covid-19, it is inevitable that rare adverse events will occur. 

While we represent individuals injured by vaccines covered under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), vaccine injuries stemming from a Covid-19 vaccination are, at present, not handled through the VICP.

Instead, Covid-19 vaccine injuries are litigated through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).

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Shoulder Injuries in the Vaccine Compensation ProgramOn April 22, 2021, Health and Human Services (HHS) published the final rule on the Federal Register withdrawing the proposed rule change previously published on January 21, 2021 which would have changed how cases involving shoulder injuries and vasovagal syncope were handled in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

In explaining this action, HHS noted that members of the public had expressed concern that the agency’s process while pursuing the proposed rule removing shoulder injuries and vasovagal syndrome from the Vaccine Injury Table was irregular in its haste. HHS also observed that from a public health policy perspective, removing these injuries from the Vaccine Injury Table may dissuade individuals from undergoing vaccinations, which would be counter to the public’s interest in promoting vaccination. You can find HHS’s full rationale for withdrawing the rule here.

For individuals with shoulder injuries or vasovagal syncope stemming from a vaccine covered under the VICP, the move by HHS to withdraw the proposed Table amendment is good news and means that these vaccine injury cases can continue to be pursued as before.

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Vaccine Compensation ProgramOn March 17, 2021, Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice on the Federal Register alerting the public that the proposed rule change previously published on January 21, 2021 changing how cases involving shoulder injuries and vasovagal syncope are handled in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), is likely to be withdrawn following a thirty day comment period for public response ending on April 16, 2021.

The January 2021 rule by HHS would have removed shoulder and vasovagal injuries from the Vaccine Injury Table, requiring injured parties to pursue these injuries through “causation-in-fact” claims which often require the retention of medical experts and very often, an in-person hearing years down the line before a Special Master (Judge) in Washington, D.C. That rule change was initially due to go into effect on February 22, 2021, however, the effective date was pushed back two months until April 23, 2021 following a request by the Biden administration for time to review all administrative actions that occurred during the sunset of the previous administration.

Now, it appears that HHS is moving to withdraw that rule entirely. If that comes to pass, shoulder injuries and vasovagal syncope would continue to be included in the Vaccine Injury Table, allowing the claims to continue to be resolved more efficiently than if they were causation-in-fact cases.

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shoulder injury following vaccinationOn February 23, 2021, Health and Human Services (HHS) published a rule on the Federal Register that effectively gives individuals that have experienced a shoulder injury or vasovagal syncope following vaccination, an additional two months, until April 23, 2021, to file a vaccine injury claim through the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

Originally, the rule which would change the way these injuries are handled within the VICP, making it more difficult for many vaccine injured individuals to pursue their claims, was due to take effect on February 22, 2021. The two month pause in the rule’s effective date was announced by HHS due to a request by the Biden administration for time to review all administrative actions that occurred during the sunset of the previous administration.

We have previously covered the rule changes, and the likely outcomes for vaccine injured individuals, in prior blog posts which you can find here and here.

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