Opinion | The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) is a program of the U.S. government that provide financial compensation for people who have suffered serious injuries or death from vaccines, biologics, antivirals or other drugs, as well medical devices used to “diagnose, prevent or treat a declared pandemic, epidemic or security threat.” The program was established by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) of 2005.1 2 3
According to a recent article in Politico, 500 claims were filed with the CICP during 2010-2020, compared to more than 8,000 claims filed during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years. As of June 1, 2022, the CICP has received a total 8,935 claims. Of those claims, 8,839 have been deemed to be “eligible for medical review.” Twenty-nine of the claims have been compensated, 389 have been denied and 8,409 are either pending review or in the process of being reviewed.3 4
More than 5,000 of the CICP claims reportedly have been “directly related” to the COVID shots, “with injuries ranging from a sore shoulder to death.” Approximately 3,000 more CICP claims are related to “everything from drugs and devices to the failure of hospital staff to limit infection spread have also been filed.”4
CICP ‘Only Option’ for Compensation for Harm Caused by COVID Shots
As Wayne Rohde pointed out in a December 2020 article published in The Vaccine Reaction:
It is extremely difficult for a petitioner to prevail in the CICP. Only eight percent of all petitioners since 2010 have been awarded compensation through the CICP. It has been said, “the CICP is a program where you have the right to file and lose.”1
But the CICP is “really the only option” for those seeking compensation for harm caused by COVID shots, wrote Rohde.
Thus far, no CICP claims associated with the COVID pandemic have received compensation. Politico reports that part of the reason for this is that government officials are “waiting for people to submit detailed medical records and documentation to back up their allegations.”4
Spokesperson for the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) David Bowman explains:
Compensation determinations are made based on individual case reviews, and the statute sets a very high standard that a claimant must meet to be eligible for compensation.4
COVID Shot Compensation Claims Would Move to VICP After End of Pandemic
Once the COVID pandemic is declared to have ended and COVID shots become “routine,” any claims for injuries due to COVID shots would handled by a separate federal government program known as the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which has evaluated more than 19,500 claims for vaccine injuries and deaths since 1988 and approved 7,807 of them, paying out some $5 billion in compensation as of January 2022. The VICP was created by Congress in 1986 under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA).5 6 7
As Barbara Loe Fisher and Rishma Parpia pointed out in a 2020 article in The Vaccine Reaction:
[I]f the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) eventually votes to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children and pregnant women, then it is likely that the VICP will be the primary compensation mechanism used in the U.S. to compensate individuals harmed by COVID-19 vaccines after they are licensed by the FDA.7
The CDC now recommends COVID shots for both children and pregnant women and the FDA has licensed both Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna/NIAID’s Spikevax COVID biologics. But the pandemic has not been officially declared to be over by the U.S. government, so claims for COVID shot injuries and deaths currently remain under the CICP.8 9
VICP Already Overwhelmed With Vaccine Injury Claims
When the pandemic is finally declared over and COVID shots are recommended by the CDC on an annual basis like the flu shot, for example, the issue of compensation under the VICP may become a more heightened one, given that the VICP is overwhelmed as it is with claims for childhood and flu vaccine injuries and deaths. It will, inevitably, put pressure on the federal government to address problems with the program.
The Politico article noted:
The [VICP] originally covered six routine childhood vaccinations, including measles and polio. But it’s grown to include 16 vaccines—including influenza shots, which tens of millions of people receive every year—without commensurate growth in staff or money needed to handle the additional claims.4
Attorney Susan Steinman, who serves as senior director of policy and senior counsel at American Association for Justice, says there were 2,057 VICP claims filed in fiscal year 2021 and that the backlog of cases under the program is now more than two years long.4
Attorney Renee Gentry, who is director of George Washington University’s Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic believes there have been some “very significant injuries” from the COVID shots that have “destroyed lives.”4
“It’s frustrating to tell those people who did everything right that they get nothing for that,” Gentry said.4
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Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.Click here to view References:
1 Rohde W. So What Happens if You Get Injured by a COVID-19 Vaccine? The Vaccine Reaction Dec. 28, 2020.
2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)
3 U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) Data,
4 Gardner L. Vaccine injury compensation programs overwhelmed as congressional reform languishes. Politico June 1, 2022.
5 Ghafur A. The Slippery Slope of Indemnity for COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturers. The WIRE June 11, 2021.
6 National Vaccine Information Center. Reforming Vaccine Policy & Law a Guide.
7 Fisher BL, Parpia R. 2005 PREP Act and 1986 Act Shield Vaccine Manufacturers from Liability. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 10, 2020.
8 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations for Children and Teens. June 24, 2022.
9 CDC. COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding. June 13, 2022.
10 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines Licensed for Use in the United States. June 23, 2022.