Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The U.S. government has paid two more people who were injured by COVID-19 vaccines as it faces the prospect of being forced by a court to improve a program for victims.
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which runs the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), issued the payments to two people who suffered heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination.
HRSA disclosed the two payments in its most recent update, which includes data current as of Oct. 1.
Both people experienced myocarditis, or heart inflammation, after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. HRSA has declined to disclose which shots the people received.
One person received $4,183 and the other received $4,934.
HRSA did not respond to requests for more information.
Critics said the payments weren't nearly enough to satisfy moves made to improve the government response to vaccine injuries.
"Almost three years into the COVID vaccine roll-out and the U.S. government has paid out around $18,000 total to six people," Brianne Dressen, co-founder of React19, told The Epoch Times in an email. "It is clear that addressing the collateral damage of the COVID vaccine program is not a priority for the U.S. government."
React19 was founded by Ms. Dressen and others after they were injured by COVID-19 vaccines but found little appetite within the government, despite its widespread promotion of the shots, for helping the injured.
The CICP, they say, is a prime example of a broken system. The vaccines were rolled out in December 2020, and adverse events began being reported almost immediately. But the government did not compensate injured people through the program until 2023.
To date, six people have received compensation. Five suffered myocarditis. One suffered anaphylaxis, or severe allergic shock. The total payments amount to $17,711.
React19, a nonprofit, in contrast, has paid $750,000 to injured people.
While the CICP has paid six people, and has approved 26 other applications for payment, it has rejected 854 claims. More than 10,000 others are pending.
Americans diagnosed by doctors with vaccine injuries are among those who have been rejected, according to records reviewed by The Epoch Times.
The COVID-19 vaccines are covered by the CICP because, under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared COVID-19 a national emergency. That declaration has been extended multiple times, and is currently in place through the end of 2024.
The CICP, lawyers and advocates say, is an inferior system to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which covers most vaccines administered in the United States. The latter includes judicial review, while the CICP is entirely run by the HHS, which includes HRSA.
React19 and injured people sued HRSA over the program this month, asserting it is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs asked the federal court to force the government to improve the program in various ways, including adding judicial review and a process to obtain discovery.
"The CICP has over 11,000 claims, 97 percent rejection rate, near-impossible standard of proof, and no transparency in the application process," Ms. Dressen said. "The program is a failure."
More on Program
The CICP was established by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005. It shields vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits, except in cases of "willful misconduct."
Under the law, once the HHS secretary declares an emergency, countermeasures including vaccines that respond to the emergency are covered by the CICP.
Then-Health Secretary Alex Azar issued the first declaration, which took effect on Feb. 4, 2020. The declaration was extended repeatedly, primarily after President Joe Biden took office. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra extended it through December 2024.
"The protections provided by the PREP Act declaration have helped millions of Americans receive convenient and timely COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests. Recognizing this, the amended declaration that Secretary Becerra will sign will extend important protections to continue to facilitate such access," HHS said before Mr. Becerra signed the extension.
The CICP can provide compensation for unreimbursed medical expenses, lost employment income, and, if the injured person died, benefits to survivors.
People have one year from when they receive a vaccine covered by the CICP to apply for compensation. They must prove they were injured by providing "compelling, reliable and valid medical and scientific evidence," according to CICP administrators.
Administrators have rejected multiple petitions that featured diagnoses by doctors and supporting studies. In their rejections, administrators did not cite any studies, according to records reviewed by The Epoch Times.
Dr. Joel Wallskog, co-chair of React19, was rejected even though a doctor said he suffered a "significant reaction from Moderna COVID vaccination."
"The current medical and scientific evidence does not show a causal link between the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and transverse myelitis, other neuro-inflammatory disorders, myelopathy, or thrombotic disorders, including spinal cord infarction,” Dr. George Reed Grimes, a director in HRSA, told Dr. Wallskog in a letter.
Dr. Wallskog appealed the determination, but appeals are also decided by HRSA officials. That arrangement, instead of the judicial review featured in the national program, “potentially creates a conflict of interest,” researchers wrote in a 2022 paper, advising Congress to reform CICP by allowing judicial review or relocating the program.