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Vaccine Injury Compensation

Smallpox Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-20, 117 Stat. 638) authorized the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish the Smallpox Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (the Program). The Program was appropriated $42 million to provide medical, lost employment income, and death benefits.

Eligible individuals include smallpox vaccine recipients, unvaccinated individuals injured after coming into contact with a vaccinated individual or with a second person with whom the vaccinated person had contact (“vaccinia contacts”), estates, and survivors.

Medical and Lost Employment Income Benefits
Medical benefits are for past, current and future medical services and supplies needed to diagnose or treat the medical injury.

Lost employment income benefits are for the number of lost work days without employment income, subject to the following formula: if there are 10 or fewer lost work days without employment income, the Secretary will subtract 5 from the total number; otherwise, all of the days of lost employment income are counted. The payments for medical benefits or lost employment income are secondary to payments paid by or due from companies or programs such as health insurance companies and workers’ compensation programs.

To be considered for medical benefits or lost employment income benefits, an individual must document that he/she is a:

  • smallpox vaccine recipient” who is or was a member of an HHS-approved HHS, State, or local smallpox emergency response plan (the Plan); was a health care worker, law enforcement officer, firefighter, security personnel, emergency medical personnel, other public safety personnel, or support personnel of such occupational specialties; received a smallpox vaccination as part of the Plan between Jan. 24, 2003, and Jan. 23, 2004; and sustained a medical injury covered by the Program from the smallpox vaccine or other covered countermeasures (e.g., cidofovir or vaccine immune globulin); or
  • vaccinia contact” who sustained a medical injury from exposure to the virus in the smallpox vaccine through physical contact between January 24, 2003, and February 22, 2004, with a smallpox vaccine recipient (who may have been injured or not) or with a person with whom a vaccinated person had contact; or
  • representative of an estate of a smallpox vaccine recipient or vaccinia contact who died prior to receiving benefits under the Program.

Individuals must document the basis for their request for benefits. This includes all medical and lost employment income benefits that they have received or to which they are entitled, and the number of days of lost employment income. This documentation must be provided before the Secretary can determine the amount of benefits.

Death Benefits
The Program offers death benefits to survivors of smallpox vaccine recipients or vaccinia contacts who died as a direct result of exposure to the virus in the smallpox vaccine. The categories of survivors include:

1. spouse
2. child
3. minor dependent
4. beneficiary in the latest executed life insurance policy
5. parent
6. legal guardian of a deceased, eligible minor.

The death benefits may be secondary to other benefits.

Filing Deadlines

Smallpox vaccine recipients must submit their Request Forms within one year of having received the smallpox vaccination.

Vaccinia contacts must submit their Request Forms within two years of the onset of their symptoms resulting from vaccinia exposure.

Survivors and estates have the same filing deadlines as the individuals on whose behalf they are submitting Request Forms.

Individuals do not have to submit all medical and payment information with the Request Forms in order to meet the filing deadline.

Further Information

An interim final rule describing the Program’s administrative policies and procedures, published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2003, contains details on eligibility requirements, the process for requesting benefits and receiving payments, and the administrative process for running the Program.

This information came from an
HRSA online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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