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

Dunn’s clients who run businesses serving customers in person or on site are most interested in mandating a Covid vaccine for staff.

“They view it as a selling point,” Dunn said. “It’s particularly important for restaurants, bars, gyms and salons. My clients in that segment of the service industry are looking hard at making it mandatory, as a sales point to their customers.” 

There are a few notable exceptions. If a work force is unionized, the collective bargaining agreement may require negotiating with the union before mandating a vaccine.

Anti-discrimination laws provide some protections as well. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers who don’t want to be vaccinated for medical reasons are eligible to request an exemption. If taking the vaccine is a violation of a “sincerely held” religious belief, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would potentially provide a way to opt out.

“An emergency use authorization is not a license,” said Reiss. “There’s a legal question as to whether you can mandate an emergency observation. The language in the act is somewhat unclear on that.”

David Carney, vice president of the Vaccine Bar Association, said the CICP might deny a claim for a variety of reasons. “One reason might be that the medical records don’t support a claim,” said Carney, who regularly deals with vaccine injury cases. “We have to litigate a lot of really complex issues … and provide a medical basis for why the injury occurred.”

Proving an injury was a direct result of the Covid vaccine could be difficult, according to Carney. “It’s not as simple as saying. ‘Hey, I got a Covid treatment, and now I have an injury.’ There is a lot of burden of proof there.”

There is also a strict one-year statute, meaning that all claims have to be filed within 12 months of receiving the vaccine.

“People who are harmed by a Covid vaccine deserve to be compensated fast and generously,” said Reiss. “The PREP Act doesn’t do that.”

Lawyers tell CNBC that it would make more sense for Covid vaccine injuries to instead be routed through another program under the HHS called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which handles claims for 16 routine vaccines. Known colloquially as “vaccine court,” the program paid on about 70% of petitions adjudicated by the court from 2006 to 2018.

And since it began considering claims in 1988, the VICP has paid approximately $4.4 billion in total compensation. That dwarfs the CICP’s roughly $6 million in paid benefits over the life of the program.

The VICP also gives you more time to file your claim. You have three years from the date of the first symptom to file for compensation.

“The VICP allows for recovery of pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, along with medical expenses and lost wages, if any,” said Michael Maxwell, a lawyer who practices in the areas of business litigation and personal injury. “Under the CICP, it’s only lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses. That’s it, unless there’s a death.”

The Covid-19 vaccines, however, aren’t on the list of eligible vaccines.

Reiss said the best fix would be to change VICP’s rulebook to add Covid vaccines to its list of covered inoculations. “That will require legislative change. I hope that legislative change happens.”

This content was originally published here.