A consistent rationalization for vaccine-hesitant Americans is an irrational fear that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are not safe. That belief is unfounded, of course, given the wealth of evidence that risk for side effects is minimal while the protection offered by the vaccines is great but that doesn’t stop people from espousing it online and discouraging the undecided crowd from getting the shots. Now the legal profession may be adding to the manufactured controversy. “Vaccine lawyers” are flooding search engines with ads touting their own ability to get justice—and cash—for individuals who claim to have been injured by vaccines. Some are even tying this issue to traumatic injury settlements they’ve obtained—“over $2 billion recovered” boasts one firm in the New York City area. Anticipating this, the federal government has taken measures to ensure protection against egregious settlements being chased by personal injury attorneys. Way back in February 2020, before vaccines were even available, the Health and Human Services secretary invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which limits liability for losses related to the administration of medical countermeasures like diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. HHS also declared COVID-19 to be a public health emergency warranting liability protection for covered countermeasures. In addition, the government established the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program to pay for settlements related to countermeasures implemented in a pandemic. This is all good news for urgent care providers in their capacity as providers of vaccines, but also as employers who may have implemented a workplace vaccination mandate.
Lawyers Aren’t Keeping People from Getting Vaccinated—but They May Not Be Helping, Either