Statement on behalf of mctlaw by Vaccine Injury Attorney Anne Toale over proposed legislation to remove SIRVA and syncope from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program:
As a past president of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association, I oppose the unprecedented move by the Department of Health and Human Services towards eliminating more than half of all claims filed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program.
HHS aims to remove claims regarding SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration) and syncope (fainting) from the Vaccine Injury Table and exclude them from the no-fault compensation program. Instead, HHS wants these claims to be brought in the civil courts, where plaintiffs would undoubtedly sue both vaccine administrators such as nurses or pharmacists, and vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and Merck. This is the exact opposite of what Congress intended when it passed the Vaccine Act in 1986. The Vaccine Act was designed to shield vaccine manufacturers and administrators from liability to protect the vaccine supply, while at the same time providing a method for relatively quick and easy compensation for unavoidable vaccine injuries.
The arguments for removing SIRVA and syncope from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program are weak – there are numerous claims, but the 4 billion dollar vaccine fund continues to grow and is no danger of being depleted by these claims. SIRVA claims are serious, I have represented a SIRVA claimant who required three separate shoulder surgeries and is unable to return to their profession. Rather than deny these deserving claimants of their present route to compensation, a better solution, consistent with congressional intent and basic decency, would be to increase the number of special masters available to hear vaccine injury claims. The vaccine bar has long advocated for Congress to increase the number of special masters to at least sixteen – presently only eight special masters are available to decide vaccine cases originating from every U.S. state and territory.
HHS, as the Respondent in Vaccine Act cases, should focus its efforts on supporting the legislation to alleviate the overburdened court instead of selectively removing a large percentage of claims and placing them back in the civil court system where they don’t belong.