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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
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About the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PDF - 118 KB), as amended*, created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system. It provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, petitioners may receive compensation through a settlement.

The VICP was established after lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers threatened to cause vaccine shortages and reduce vaccination rates. The Program began accepting petitions (also called claims) in 1988. The Program's objectives are to:

ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, 

stabilize vaccine costs, and 

establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.

The 21st Century Cures Act (Public Law 114-255) (PDF – 729 KB), enacted on December 13, 2016, made several amendments to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.Specifically, these amendments:

  • Expand the VICP’s coverage to include new categories of vaccines that previously were not covered by the VICP: vaccines recommended by the CDC for routine administration to pregnant women (but not for routine administration in children) and subject to a federal excise tax. See Section 3093(c)(1) of P.L. 114-255.
  • Make clear that vaccine-injury claims may be filed both with respect to injuries alleged to have been sustained by women receiving covered vaccines during pregnancy and with respect to injuries alleged to have been sustained by live-born children who were in utero at the time those women were administered such vaccines. See Section 3093(c)(2), (3) of P.L. 114-255.
*Source: Public Health Service Act - House Office of the Legislative Counsel (PDF - 4.3 MB)

Program Administration

The VICP is administered by the Division of Injury Compensation Programs, Healthcare Systems Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Three Federal organizations have a role in the VICP:

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosts the Program, conducts medical reviews of petitions, and makes Court-ordered compensation payments;
  • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) represents HHS in Court; and
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the Court) makes the final decision regarding whether a petition is compensated and the type and amount of compensation.

Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund provides funding for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to compensate vaccine-related injury or death petitions for covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988.

Funded by a $.75 excise tax on vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine administration to children, the excise tax is imposed on each dose (i.e., disease that is prevented) of a vaccine. Trivalent influenza vaccine for example, is taxed $.75 because it prevents one disease; measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which prevents three diseases, is taxed $2.25.

The Department of Treasury collects the excise taxes and manages the Fund’s investments and produces Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund Monthly Reports.

Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines

The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, consisting of nine voting members, advises and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on issues relating to the operation of the VICP and on ways to improve it.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, read the FAQs.

Disclaimer

The content of this website reflects the current thinking of the United States Department of Health and Human Services on the topics addressed and does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind the Department or the public. The ultimate decision about the scope of the statutes authorizing the VICP is within the authority of the United States Court of Federal Claims, which is responsible for resolving petitions for compensation under the VICP.

Last Reviewed: February 2016