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Federal vaccine court hasn't helped those whose lives were altered by COVID-19 shots

Angela Marie Wulbrecht jumped at the first chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine, driving three hours from her home in Santa Rosa to a mass-vaccination site on Jan. 19. Twelve minutes after her Moderna shot, she stumbled into the paramedic tent with soaring blood pressure and a racing heartbeat.

So began a calvary of severe fatigue, brain fog, imbalance and other symptoms that are still with her eight months later.

Wulbrecht, 46, had been a nurse for 23 years before the fateful shot. She was healthy, ate a vegan diet and was an accomplished salsa dancer. Since January, she’s had to leave her job and has missed out on many activities with her husband and 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella. She has spent about $35,000 on out-of-pocket medical bills, despite having insurance.

“I wanted to get vaccinated as soon as I could to help fight the pandemic,” said Wulbrecht, who still supports the vaccination campaign. Her husband got his shots despite her reaction, and Gabriella was scheduled to get her first dose Wednesday. “But it would help those who are hesitant if they took care of those of us who got injured.”

The options are slim for people who suffer rare life-altering injuries after a COVID-19 shot. It's a problem whose significance is growing as states and the federal government increasingly ponder vaccine mandates.

A federal program compensates people experiencing vaccine injuries, but not injuries from COVID-19 vaccines — not yet, anyway.

Such injuries are rare, but “if you’re going to take one for the team, the team has to have your back,” said Katharine Van Tassel, a vaccine law expert at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. “That’s a moral imperative.”

Thirty-five years ago, Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, known as the vaccine court, for children hurt by routine immunizations administered as a condition of school entry. Since it began operations in 1988, the vaccine court has paid more than $4 billion to over 8,000 families who could provide a “preponderance of evidence” that vaccines against diseases like measles and pertussis hurt their kids.

The court also covers vaccine injuries in pregnant women, and from the flu vaccine. But it does not cover aftereffects from COVID-19 shots.

A smaller federal program, the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, addresses illnesses resulting from drugs or vaccines administered during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. But that program requires evidence that’s harder to pin down, does not pay attorney fees and rules by administrative fiat, while the vaccine court has judges.

The countermeasures program has yet to pay anything to anyone hurt by a COVID-19 vaccine, and its largely invisible decisions are “an inscrutable enigma,” said Brian Abramson, an expert on vaccine law.

David Bowman, a spokesperson for the Health Resources & Services Administration in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said the countermeasures program had a total of seven staff members and contractors and was seeking to hire more. He declined to answer questions about how COVID-19 vaccine claims could be handled in the future.

In June, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced legislation to address problems with the original vaccine court, including a two-year backlog of cases. That bill would also increase the pain and suffering or death payments to people who can prove an injury, from $250,000 to $600,000.

A spokesperson for Doggett said he hoped the bill would eventually allow patients injured by COVID-19 vaccines to get compensation through the vaccine court. But that’s far from guaranteed.

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by Anonymousreply 44September 1, 2021 1:49 PM

In general, it is very difficult to prove a vaccine caused an injury that arises after vaccination, since the ailments can be coincidental. But the rare vaccine injury can be devastating to a person’s health and financial resources.

Wulbrecht, whose care has included five ambulance trips, each billed for $3,000, filed a claim in February with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. She got a note acknowledging her claim but hasn’t heard further from the program.

She’s in a Facebook group created for people reporting grievous COVID-19 vaccine-related neurological issues. It was launched by Dr. Danice Hertz, a retired gastroenterologist in Santa Monica who has been diagnosed post-vaccination with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare condition in which part of the immune system goes haywire.

Hertz got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 23, shortly after it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. Within 30 minutes, she suffered terrible numbness and pain in her face and tongue and “felt vibrations going through my whole body,” she said.

More than 90% of the 150 people in the Facebook group are women, Hertz said. She is careful to keep what she terms anti-vaccine “riffraff” off the list, but she said many of the injured people have been frustrated at being unable to get a diagnosis or find doctors who understand the nature of their injuries.

Talk of vaccine injuries is sometimes muted in public health circles because of reluctance to feed the anti-vaccine movement and its bogus claims of vaccine injury ranging from infertility to magnetism to microchips secretly implanted by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

But rare reactions like the ones Hertz and Wulbrecht report are scattered through the vaccine literature and often attributed to a phenomenon called “molecular mimicry,” in which the immune system responds to an element in the vaccine by attacking similar-looking human proteins. Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, is caused by an immune attack on the nervous system in reaction to a vaccination, and to viral infections. It has been reported after influenza shots, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Hertz and others have been in contact with Dr. Avindra Nath, chief of clinical medicine at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, whose specialty is the study of immune-modulated neurological illness. Nath said he was studying some of the patients but hadn’t confirmed their illnesses were caused by a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have to find these answers, but they aren’t easy to come by,” Nath said. “I know these reactions are rare, because there were 36,000 NIH employees vaccinated against COVID and, if it was common, I could study it here. But I don’t have a single NIH employee” who experienced it.

Regardless of how common the reactions are, vaccine law specialists worry about the impact of a failure to help those hurt by shots administered before the products gain full FDA approval, which could come this fall.

by Anonymousreply 1August 28, 2021 10:51 AM

Congress created the vaccine court to keep pharmaceutical companies from abandoning production of common childhood vaccines by protecting them from damaging lawsuits, while at the same time offering support for kids hurt by a vaccine.

The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program arose as part of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, and was pushed through to shield drug companies from lawsuits over products like the anthrax and smallpox vaccines, which had a relatively high rate of dangerous side effects. COVID-19 vaccines shouldn’t be in the same category, Van Tassel said.

The PREP Act is likely to set an almost insurmountable burden of proof for injury compensation, she said. Rewards depend on “compelling, reliable, valid medical and scientific evidence,” which doesn’t exist for COVID-19 vaccines because they are so new.

But cause and effect appear clear to women like Brianne Dressen, a Saratoga Springs, Utah, preschool teacher who was bedridden for months with neurological symptoms that began after she got an AstraZeneca shot in a clinical trial last November.

“Vaccines are an important piece of the puzzle to get us through the pandemic,” she said. “But some people are going to draw the short straw with any drug or vaccine, and we need to take care of them.”

by Anonymousreply 2August 28, 2021 10:51 AM

Troubling.

by Anonymousreply 3August 28, 2021 11:25 AM

[quote]Talk of vaccine injuries is sometimes muted in public health circles because of reluctance to feed the anti-vaccine movement

Really? They've been pushing this since December. Kit's the reason morons take horse dewormer.

by Anonymousreply 4August 28, 2021 11:32 AM

tl;dr Vaccines cause fibromyalgia.!!

And yet 168 million in USA people have had no problems at all.

Florida added 900 dead people yesterday. Morgues in 5 counties are filled. 6 states have almost no ICU beds available. But let's focus on 150 people on facebook.

by Anonymousreply 5August 28, 2021 11:40 AM

Anti-vaxx nutjobs are the worst. FF and blocked.

You aren't going to sway many people here. Go back to facebook.

by Anonymousreply 6August 28, 2021 11:41 AM

I can’t believe this happened to a salsa dancer. And a vegan no less.

by Anonymousreply 7August 28, 2021 11:44 AM

Nobody ever responds to this but please, correct me if I’m wrong: isn’t the anti-vax movement just a bunch of white women who can’t accept that there may be things like autism in their gene pool? They had to find some cause external to them?

by Anonymousreply 8August 28, 2021 11:47 AM

Why doesn’t the article say how many COVID related vaccine injuries have been reported? Judging by the the article you would guess the number to be in the millions. This is anti vaccine porn at its finest.

by Anonymousreply 9August 28, 2021 11:51 AM

OP - let's take a look at an actual fact. Since the 2nd dose of the vaccine, my otherwise slim and energetic roommate has had some major feminine issues (docs chalk it up to perimenopause and maybe it is true), brain fog, and lethargy and a host of issues they keep investigating. Could it be hormones? Age? Well...she says the alternative would have been to expose herself with a vitamin deficiency (and me, with severe asthma) to COVID in a place with a 25% vaccination rate. Not getting vaxxed would have meant no travel, none of the fun events like the Pride parade pics I linked, exposing her elderly relatives to possible death...now, the side effects may be from perimenopause and may go away or become manageable and there is a whole lot she does to feel better. Says she will get the 3rd vaccine. Why? No proof that these problems are from the jab but there is proof that COVID can kill. If it doesn't kill you can still end up like that DL-er's poor partner with blood clots in his lungs. This lady needs far more through investigations. Women have many and diverse reasons to feel like that. Why do I know? My late partner was a renowned obgyn who also researched and published. Some tests need to be done on specific days of the month, the cycle...women are very complicated in that sense. He said a true specialist never stops investigating and monitoring.

by Anonymousreply 10August 28, 2021 11:52 AM

Another anti-vax thread.

Moscow is really up and at 'em this morning.

F&F.

by Anonymousreply 11August 28, 2021 12:00 PM

Muriel, take these threads down ! And everyone else ff it!

by Anonymousreply 12August 28, 2021 12:02 PM

I understand wanting to FF the OP but let's be honest, it's media outlets like the LA Times, where this originates, who are the real problem. They're publishing articles like this where we have no idea if the vaccine really caused the health problems, and we're not told key details.

by Anonymousreply 13August 28, 2021 12:06 PM

R10 thank you for that, well said.

My doctor & gyno are looking closer at tests of mine, after one Pfizer—in particular at what could be a moderate case of hitherto-undetected endometriosis (meaning, it didn’t show up for me in exams prior to the vax) and signs of scarring.

I’m due the second Pfizer today, and I’m very anxious and unsure about what it could do to my body because in general bio- womens’ health is woefully under-investigated and sidelined.

by Anonymousreply 14August 28, 2021 12:09 PM

Ugh...I meant "far more thorough investigations" not "through"....

As R13 said we need doctor opinions. I am will to bet that no doctor has conclusively decided that her symptoms are from the jab.

by Anonymousreply 15August 28, 2021 12:11 PM

The pic doesn't fit the narrative, FFS!

0/10

by Anonymousreply 16August 28, 2021 12:20 PM

R14 - for a solid endometriosis diagnosis you need a laparoscopy. Don't let a doctor pump you up with meds before he actually looks. Insist on it. A good obgyn will not only do that but will also maybe take blood tests on different days of your cycle. One thing my late partner also did was work with an endocrinologist (maybe also a neurologist if the patient had headaches and tension). It's important to take an approach where all kind of possibilities are explored and ruled out. Just saying "here take these pills...it's probably X" is no way to do right by the patient.

by Anonymousreply 17August 28, 2021 12:25 PM

Something sounds fishy about the woman in the OP. First of all, when you receive a COVID vaccination they have you stay there for a minimum of 15 minutes to make sure you're not going to have any sort of adverse reaction. I guess they can't legally force you to stay, but if that woman got her shot and refused to wait 15 minutes where she'd have trained medical professionals right there to deal with things, then she's obviously a fool, and I find her story suspect.

by Anonymousreply 18August 28, 2021 12:33 PM

Lotsa fat women in my city died after getting the Astra shot. Yes, mostly fat women under 60.

by Anonymousreply 19August 28, 2021 12:46 PM

R18 - 15 minutes won't really matter if they show up later. I think that is to rule out the possibility of an allergic reaction. They do that with the flu shot at my local clinic.

R19 - what? Stats or news link? Lots of elderly and overweight women here in Eastern Europe got it because it came before the Pfizer and no cases of death from Astra Zeneca and being overweight and a woman have been reported.

by Anonymousreply 20August 28, 2021 1:08 PM

She sounds like a cunt.

I personally know of several long covid sufferers, they would spit on this woman

by Anonymousreply 21August 28, 2021 1:12 PM

Supposedly breakthrough infections are “extremely rare” in NYC, but I know three people got them. An old classmate’s sister in another state is a fourth who’s on a ventilator now.

So I take the “rare” thing with a grain of salt.

by Anonymousreply 22August 28, 2021 1:16 PM

I’m staying home and distanced being my agoraphobic self this winter no matter what. Too risky.

by Anonymousreply 23August 28, 2021 1:22 PM

I have a symptom that only appeared after my vaccination. But it’s mild and not painful so I’m keeping mum. I mentioned it once here and some defensive people denied it could possibly be from the vaccine. It could be something latent that was triggered.

I’m still pro-vaccine, I’ll get the boosters. However there’s a faction of rabid defenders for whom any question or criticism is sacrilege. It’s fervent and absolute and reminds me of those evangelicals. Relax. Some people have a bad reaction. Even the scientists agree.

by Anonymousreply 24August 28, 2021 1:24 PM

I don't doubt that there will be rare cases of injury from the covid vaccine, as there are from almost all vaccines.

However ... a friend of mine has a sister-in-law and niece who are both neurotic messes, a mother-daughter duo who are convinced that they have every disease they stumble across on Google. The daughter had to be transported to a hospital via ambulance immediately following her first Pfizer shot at a the local health dept. It was a panic attack. But she's now convinced herself that she has every symptom she's ever read other women have had following the shot. What's more, her mother now believes she has all the same symptoms, though she finished her two-shot regimen six months ago and was fine until her daughter started going around the bend. No doctors have been able to verify any of their symptoms. The daughter refuses to have her second shot.

by Anonymousreply 25August 28, 2021 1:27 PM

There's also a woman who's been posting on DL for the last month or so, citing a litany of symptoms she claims are due to the vaccine and complaining that her doctors aren't taking them seriously. I don't doubt her doctors are dismissing her because every symptom she lists is a common manifestation of severe anxiety – but she refuses to consider that her mental state might be the problem.

by Anonymousreply 26August 28, 2021 1:51 PM

See this type of shit right here...

The cavalier way in which these vaccines were distributed to the public has really been bothering me. This should've been something that was handled by someone familiar with your personal medical history...like your doctor. Not some random in a visor and gown in the back parking lot of a damn Krispy Kreme.

by Anonymousreply 27August 30, 2021 9:29 AM

r27 nor ticket takers at football games. It's almost like the companies pushing this actually don't care about anyone's health.

by Anonymousreply 28August 30, 2021 9:37 AM

r22 it's always "rare" when it's caused by a pharmaceutical and always prolific when it's something a pharmaceutical can sold to "treat"

by Anonymousreply 29August 30, 2021 9:38 AM

[quote]My doctor & gyno are looking closer at tests of mine, after one Pfizer—in particular at what could be a moderate case of hitherto-undetected endometriosis

r14 Oh hell no. Fuck that shit. I'm waiting until this bullshit has been out a while longer and they've completed their "up to 2 years follow up" of clinical trial participants. I have enough problems in that area as is (will not go into gory details but I'll just say the pain is unbearable and I become so anemic once a month that I can barely move). I also had a miscarriage 14 years ago and never got it treated because I was trying to hide the pregnancy (don't ask).

I. Will. Wait. And I also have terrible asthma. I'll just keep doing what I've been doing for most of my life any damn way...avoiding people like the plague. Because, at this time, people are, quite literally, the plague.

by Anonymousreply 30August 30, 2021 9:44 AM

r30, they can't do a 2 year clinical follow up because Pfizer and ModeRNA both stopped their control groups in June. The trials would have to be started all over again, from scratch, to actually follow scientific procedure.

by Anonymousreply 31August 30, 2021 9:47 AM

r31 Well. Shit.

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by Anonymousreply 32August 30, 2021 9:58 AM

FF= I blocked the OP and 7 anti-vaxx threads disappeared.

Die in a grease fire OP. NOW.

by Anonymousreply 33August 30, 2021 10:39 AM

[quote]

r33 I don't think that word means what you think it means.

by Anonymousreply 34August 30, 2021 11:13 AM

That word being "anti-vaxx," of course.

by Anonymousreply 35August 30, 2021 11:14 AM

I hope all the antivaxxers die quickly, let's help them find eternity. PTL

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by Anonymousreply 36August 30, 2021 11:24 AM

My guess is that the anti-vaxxers posting here, unlike your example, R36, have all been vaxxed and will be first in line for a booster. They're just here to sow doubt and dissension. It's like their hobby.

by Anonymousreply 37August 30, 2021 11:58 AM

I can't with these fucking nutjobs. I just fucking can't.

by Anonymousreply 38August 30, 2021 12:03 PM

It's almost like "The Science" isn't following the actual science.

by Anonymousreply 39August 30, 2021 3:51 PM

[quote]the anti-vaxxers posting here, unlike your example, [R36], have all been vaxxed

r37 Yep. Got my MMR, Hepatitis series, get flu shots. I'm not anti-vaxx. I'm anti-taking this specific vaxx when it hasn't even been out for a year and scientists are still collecting ever evolving data on its efficacy, safety, and learning brand new information about the virus it's supposed to protect people from and changing health guidelines faster than Elizabeth Taylor changed husbands.

by Anonymousreply 40August 31, 2021 8:02 AM

Yes, all the hospitals filled with people suffering side effects from the vaccine must give you pause, R40.

by Anonymousreply 41August 31, 2021 12:50 PM

So, if you have an adverse reaction, in the US, you're just fucked.

by Anonymousreply 42September 1, 2021 1:04 PM

Good news! Right now in the USA, every ten days, more than 8,000 (unvaccinated) Republican voters are dying of COVID-19. That’s 5X the rate for Democrats

by Anonymousreply 43September 1, 2021 1:28 PM

Very telling that the trannybots greyed this one out.

by Anonymousreply 44September 1, 2021 1:49 PM
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