You can’t sue Pfizer or Moderna if you have severe Covid vaccine side effects. The government likely won’t compensate you for damages either
- Under the PREP Act, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have total immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines.
- A little-known government program provides benefits to people who can prove they suffered serious injury from a vaccine.
- That program rarely pays, covering just 29 claims over the last decade.
If you experience severe side effects after getting a Covid vaccine, lawyers tell CNBC there is basically no one to blame in a U.S. court of law.
The federal government has granted companies like Pfizer
immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines.
“It is very rare for a blanket immunity law to be passed,” said Rogge Dunn, a Dallas labor and employment attorney. “Pharmaceutical companies typically aren’t offered much liability protection under the law.“
You also can’t sue the Food and Drug Administration for authorizing a vaccine for emergency use, nor can you hold your employer accountable if they mandate inoculation as a condition of employment.
Congress created a fund specifically to help cover lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses for people who have been irreparably harmed by a “covered countermeasure,” such as a vaccine. But it is difficult to use and rarely pays. Attorneys say it has compensated less than 6% of the claims filed in the last decade.
In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The 2005 law empowers the HHS secretary to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies, such as vaccines and treatments, unless there’s “willful misconduct” by the company. The protection lasts until 2024.
HHS declined CNBC’s request for an interview.
Dunn thinks a big reason for the unprecedented protection has to do with the expedited timeline.
“When the government said, ‘We want you to develop this four or five times faster than you normally do,’ most likely the manufacturers said to the government, ‘We want you, the government, to protect us from multimillion-dollar lawsuits,’” said Dunn.
It is very rare for a blanket immunity law to be passed. … Pharmaceutical companies typically aren’t offered much liability protection under the law.Rogge DunnDallas labor and employment attorney