Margaret A.M. Heine

is the principal counsel at Heine Law Group in Fullerton, California. She is licensed in California and Washington and has authority to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States Court of International Trade.

Her practice includes estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate as well as business, real estate, and civil litigation. Email: or visit company website


There is much in the news relating to COVID 19 with vaccinations, fears of injury over the vaccination, and increased fear of generalized living as a result of the Pandemic.  Although much has been published about the 1918 Spanish Flu and even the 2009 SARS pandemic, there is still much confusion over what legal rights we have with regard to injury from the Pandemic.  Who caused the pandemic is really not significant, and generally the government, whether federal, state, or locality will be generally immune from any legal liability for any type of physical or economic injuries caused by their action or inaction with regard to the pandemic.

Further, no manufacturer of a vaccine could be held liable for the results of the vaccine. 42 U.S. Code Section 300aa.22 states that “No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages for vaccine related injuries or death after Oct. 1, 1998, if the vaccine ws properly made and had directions and warnings prepared.

SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome infections are widespread.  They are responsible for the common cold, pneumonia, MERS, and other flu variants that cause significant respiratory problems including the Bird Flu and Spanish Flu.

The U.S. has recognized the threat from many types of virus which have had a significant impact on the U.S. population, such as polio, measles, whooping cough to name a few.  It has typically been in the public health interest of the nation to develop countermeasures to the significant threats to the population caused by these viruses.

The U.S. has generally advocated for the development and testing of vaccines to counteract the physical damages of these viruses.  Viruses, like humans, have evolved.  Some of these evolutions are deadly.  Ebola, AIDS, bird flu all have created significant concerns and deaths across the world.

The government has realized that the creation of vaccines can be a tricky business, and it is nearly impossible to create one product to treat millions of people without some people acting adversely to the vaccine.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was developed to address injuries which were caused by the administration of approved vaccines to combat a variety of diseases.  The program was created in 1986 under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.  The Act provides for compensation to people and families who have an adverse reaction to a vaccine administered for a specifically approved infection—just as polio or measles.  There is a specific section for seasonal influenza vaccines in Section XIV of the act.  It does not cover COVID or other declared pandemics.  However, if you have a reaction to a covered vaccine under this section, and usually within a few hours to 48 hours of the administration of the vaccine, which includes anaphylaxis, vasovagal syncope or Guillain Barre Syndrome, you could be eligible to receive benefits under this act.

This program, however, was not set up and created for the types of vaccines needed to treat new, unestablished variants of diseases and pandemics.  So it doesn’t cover the common cold.  In response to the deadly bird and avian flu variants and then recent pandemics, in 2005, the Public Readiness and Emergency Act of 2005 (PREP ACT) was enacted as 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d.

This program recognizes that a government response to a threat by a SARS or MERS infection could cause a Pandemic and result in the need to develop and administer COUNTERMEASURES to safeguard the population.  These countermeasures would most likely be called “vaccines” which could be used to treat or prevent a declared pandemic.

In 2015, the government recognized the potential for pandemics specifically naming SARS variants, Bird Flu, Avian Flu H5, N1, SARS 2009 H1N1, all of which spread across the world and caused significant death and injury in its path.

In response to these types of pandemics, the program the Department of Health and Human Services secretary declares the need for the countermeasure, the vaccine.  In order to claim benefits under the act, the vaccine, not the infection, must have directly caused serious injury or death.  If the vaccine caused medical expenses, lost wages over 5 days, or death, then medical expenses and other relief could be payable to the spouse, family members, or legal counsel of the person so affected.

Under the act, if you have an adverse reaction—described as:  Anaphylaxis, Deltoid Bursitis, or Vasovagel Syncope within 0 to 1, 4, or 48 hours depending on which condition exists, you may be eligible for compensation.  You may also be eligible for compensation if serious injury occurs as the result of needing respiration or breathing devices directly related to the treatment of the infection.  These are all spelled out in the Injury Tables.

If you believe that you are injured and eligible for compensation, you have to file for relief within 1 year. This consists of filing a claim for benefits within one year of having received the vaccine or needing breathing devices, your complete medical record for one year, a benefits package request obtained from Health Services and Resources Administration.  Your application will be reviewed by medical professionals.  They will determine if you are eligible for medical cost reimbursement, any lost wages, and possibly survivor’s benefits.  All applicants receive a written notice of acceptance or denial.  THIS MUST BE DONE BY MAIL, they do not accept applications or records by fax or email.

You can get an application or additional information by contacting the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program at 855-266-2427.

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