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Feature Vaccine Injury

Covid-19: Is the US compensation scheme for vaccine injuries fit for purpose?

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 19 April 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o919

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Re: Covid-19: Is the US compensation scheme for vaccine injuries fit for purpose?

Dear Editor,

As a Covid-19 vaccine injured US citizen and research nurse practitioner, I read this article with great interest and with a sigh of some relief but also immense frustration. I am relieved that more recognition of Covid-19 vaccine injuries and our plight appears to finally be weaving its way into the scientific community. Yet my frustration continues to mount as I am almost 16 months into my own injury and neither the manufacturers nor the United States Government has done anything to help.

Experience (or history) tells us that no medical intervention is adverse reaction free. And while generally some may deem these vaccines as safe and effective, the reality is that US pharmacovigilance systems -- VAERS and V-SAFE -- show thousands of documented injuries as well as deaths. To deny these reactions and refuse to research the injuries is not only anti-science, but also unethical and immoral.

Prior to my vaccine injury, I was a healthy individual with no illness nor on any medications. I now suffer with debilitating tinnitus, an impaired autonomic nervous system, and polyneuropathies. Since my injury, I have had to confront a medical system that is ill-informed and incompetent to deal with vaccine injuries. In the early months, I had been dismissed and disbelieved. These actions further complicated and delayed access to prompt medical care to possibly halt my reaction.

As a nurse, I turned to researching myself and eventually helping to direct my own care. Also, I established online support groups to gather more data and seek comfort, which were often targeted and labeled as misinformation. This further confounded my scientific reason as I looked at other online support groups formed after injuries from other medications. None of them were being similarly attacked. The stark realization that my fellow injured and I, are caught in the political crosshairs of vaccination debates and relegated as pariahs of the pandemic, leaves us in deeper despair.

Adding insult to our injuries, I agree with the BMJ article’s characterization of the CICP. I view this as a malfunctioning, bureaucratic, governmental scheme that appears to be more of a “show” than an actual source of assistance. Since logging my case over 6 months ago, I have not received a single communique or update from the program. The online platform is cumbersome and offers no clear direction or understanding of how and within what timeframe claims are processed. I have attempted to contact my government representative regarding the CICP matter as well as the media to raise awareness of our plight. My efforts on both fronts have been grossly ignored.

As a nurse and as a member of the injured community, I call upon the scientific community, medical institutions, manufacturers and governmental agencies to publicly acknowledge our adverse effects and expeditiously direct research funds to further the understanding of our injuries in the hopes of finding treatments. I also call upon the United States Government to reform the CICP to make it more transparent, ease the burden of proof, and expedite the processing of claims. We did our part, now we expect our government and our elected officials to do theirs to help us.

Shaun R. Barcavage, FNP-BC

Competing interests: No competing interests

25 April 2022
Shaun R. Barcavage
Nurse Practitioner
New York, NY