While vaccines serve an essential public health function by preventing serious and potentially life threatening diseases, a serious vaccine injury or even death can also occur to a small number of people who receive them. Such injuries include, but are not limited to, Guillain Barre Syndrome, analphylaxsis, encephalopathy, chronic arthritis, and adhesive capsulitis.
In 1988, the Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ("VICP") to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines at reasonable costs while at the same time providing an efficient mechanism to compensate people injured by vaccines.
Since 1988, over 16,729 petitions have been filed with the VICP. Over that time period, 14,397 petitions have been adjudicated, among which 4,482 were compensated, while 9,915 were dismissed. The total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.3 billion.
The VICP's most recent report shows that there have been 2,369 injuries and 100 deaths filed due to the Influenza vaccine, more commonly known as the "flu shot", since the creation of the program. Of these filed petitions, 1,366 cases were compensated and 169 were dismissed.
On average, it takes 2 to 3 years to adjudicate, or decide on, a petition after it is filed. In fiscal year 2015, 512 individuals were compensated by the VICP for their vaccine claims.
In 2015 alone, the total amount that the VICP awarded for the compensable vaccine claims was $204,137,880.
View the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program's February 2016 statistics report.