House introduces bills to strengthen Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)

On August 4, U.S. lawmakers introduced two new bills in an effort to further strengthen the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) and help the population gain more confidence in vaccines.

The vaccine is one of biotech’s – and indeed the world’s – most world-changing innovations. The disease-preventing wonder has been around since the 16th century and is the reason many deadly diseases are (almost) eradicated.

Vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the gold standard for drug approvals – are safe. Like any medicine on the market, they can have some side effects, but for the most part, these side effects are rare and usually mild.

This is where the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) steps in. HRSA introduced the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the 1980s in order to “provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a VICP-covered vaccine.”

Two bills to boost the VICP

The first bill, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act, is intended to ensure that the injury table covers routine immunizations following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, as well as cut down the time “the HHS secretary has to add a vaccine to the program from two years to six months,” according to POLITICO. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

In addition, the bill would increase the number of judges appointed to oversee open cases in order to address the backlog of ongoing claims.

The second bill, The Vaccine Access Improvement Act, “would impose the 75-cent excise tax that funds VICP on any new immunizations added to the injury table, eliminating the need for Congress to act separately,” POLITICO said. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Doggett and Mike Kelly (R-PA).

“While vaccine injury is exceedingly rare, it builds more confidence in the program if we provide reasonable remedies,” Rep. Doggett said, as reported by Bloomberg Law. “The Countermeasure Program is very insufficient.”

“I believe that those who suffer rare injuries associated with vaccines, including those to fight COVID-19, should receive prompt, reasonable compensation for medical bills and other losses,” explained Rep. Doggett, POLITICO reported.

VICP is a pivotal program that not only helps patients who have experienced vaccine injuries but also helps build confidence in vaccines, says Phyllis Arthur, SVP of Infectious Diseases and Emerging Science Policy

Per BIO’s Phyllis Arthur, SVP of Infectious Diseases & Emerging Science Policy, VICP is a pivotal program that not only helps patients who have experienced vaccine injuries but also helps build confidence in vaccines.

“BIO applauds Reps. Doggett, Smucker, and Kelly for their commitment to strengthening this program that is a vital part of our nation’s public health and immunization infrastructure. We look forward to working with them in a bipartisan way, along with Senate sponsors who included similar provisions in their bipartisan PAHPA reauthorization legislation,” she said.

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