May 2002

We need your help!

In the early 1980's when doctors and vaccine makers lobbied Congress to
protect them from vaccine injury lawsuits and insure the supply of vaccines,
Congress responded with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation
Program (NVICP). In passing the law, Congress promised parents the federal
compensation program would be a no-fault, expedited alternative to a lawsuit
and provide "Simple Justice For Children." But over the years the spirit and
intent of the program has been violated through poor implementation and a
denial of compensation to many of the children who apply for assistance with
their catastrophic vaccine injuries. Many times vaccine injury claims are
bogged down for years while families struggle to care for their severely
vaccine injured children or are mourning the death of a child.

Even though doctors and vaccine makers got what they wanted and are shielded
from vaccine injury lawsuits, they have enthusiastically supported weakening
of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program by federal health agencies
determined to limit the number of awards given to vaccine injured children.
Apparently, they see each award given as an admission that vaccines can and
do cause harm and this makes it harder for them to promote one-size-fits all
vaccination policies.

Now there is a bill pending in Congress, which was introduced by Congressman
Dan Burton (R-IN) and physician Congressman Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-FL) and is
being co-sponsored by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) that would address
some of the serious problems in the  Program. HR 3741 does not fix
everything that is wrong with the program but it is a good start.


Whether you have a vaccine injured child or you know someone who does,
please take a minute and send a letter to your member of Congress and ask
him/her to co-sponsor this legislation and help move this bill through the
legislative process.

On behalf of our members with vaccine inured children, NVIC worked hard in
the early 1980's on the original law to get as many rights and protections
for families of vaccine injured children as we could. We were up against a
very powerful vaccine and medical lobby that wanted to severely limit the
kinds of awards children could get. Since 1986, NVIC has been a vocal critic
of the way the federal agencies have gutted the compensation provisions and
compromised the spirit and intent of the law. Now we have an opportunity to
fix some of the problems in this law with the passage of HR  3741. If this
bill passes it will help more children get access to the $1.7 billion in the
trust fund that has been set aside to help vaccine injured children and

You have the opportunity to make a difference for vaccine injured children
and their families by personally contacting your member of Congress and
urging him or her to support this bill and by not giving up until they do!
Write your legislator today and follow-up with a telephone call. Stay on the
case until you get an answer. Do not accept the standard form letter that
says,  "Thank you for your views. If this bill comes before me, I will keep
your views in mind."

Please help.  Here are two sample letters. The first is for you to send to
your own member of Congress. The second is for the Speaker of the House.
Check the list below. If your member is already a co-sponsor then thank them
and continue to let them know of your concerns.

You can identify your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard
at 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to the person in your member's office who is
working on health issues.

Constituent e-mail has a better chance of being read than general e-mail
although many legislative e-mails have a form letter that bounces back.

The best way to e-mail is to go to: http://www.house.gov/writerep/


 Feel free to cut and paste the language below (Be sure to modify it for
your situation before sending):

The Honorable [Insert Name] Washington DC

Dear [Insert Congressman _____________}

My name is ______________, and I am one of your constituents. I would like
to encourage your support of HR 3741, a bill to improve the National Vaccine
Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). This bill has the support of
Republicans and Democrats alike, including Congressmen Burton, Waxman,
Weldon, Nadler, and others. Before discussing the bill, let me tell you a
little about my situation. [Describe your vaccine injury or concern.]

HR 3741 is a crucial piece of legislation for a number of reasons. First of
all, it corrects some of the problems with regard to the statute of
limitations for filing claims in the program. Every state in the union has a
tolling provision for minority, (your right to file a lawsuit until you
become an adult) and many states have discovery rules. The NVICP does not.

Currently if a claim is not filed within three years of the injury, it is
too late. The Department of Health and Human Services does very little to
publicize this program so most parents are not aware that the program even
exists until it is too late for them to file a claim. When Congress passed
this law in 1986, the intent was to help children who had been injured by
mandatory vaccinations.  But without these changes many families will
continue to be left with no resources to help their vaccine injured

A second critical piece of HR 3741 will allow for our attorney to file for
fees and costs during the course of our claim. As a family with a sick
child, we cannot afford to hire experts and do the things necessary to
defend our claim without adequate resources and adequate representation.
Many attorneys refuse to even review cases because of the difficulty in
getting paid in a timely manner. The attorneys who still work within the
system have exhausted their resources, and they are only able to move cases
forward if the clients can afford to pay the costs. This has resulted in an
unfair advantage to the Department of Justice and gives them no incentive to
move cases through the system faster. Please support HR 3741 and change this
injustice. HR 3741 would also provide counseling for families of vaccine
victims and pay the costs of establishing guardianships.

The trust fund that was established to compensate vaccine injured children
has over $1.7 billion . Please keep the promise of "Simple Justice for
Children" that was made by Congress in 1986 when this law was passed. I
implore you to co-sponsor this bill and to work for its speedy passage.


Name, Address, City, State


Sponsor of  HR 3741
Rep Dan Burton (IN)

Co-Sponsors of HR 3741

Rep Dave Weldon (FL)
Rep Henry Waxman (CA)
Rep Jerrold Nadler, (NY)

Rep Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA)
Rep Jo Ann Davis (VA)

Rep Davis, Tom (VA)
Rep John J. Duncan, Jr (TN)

Rep Martin Frost, (TX)
Rep Benjamin A Gilman (NY)

Rep Ralph M Hall (TX)
Rep Stephen Horn (CA)

Rep Johnny Isakson (GA)
Rep Dennis J. Kucinich (OH)

Rep Steve C. LaTourette (OH)
Rep James P McGovern (MA)

Rep John M.McHugh (NY)
Rep Constance A. Morella (MD)
Rep Charlie Norwood (GA)

Rep Adam H Putnam (FL)
Rep Lynn N Rivers (MI)

Rep Jim Ryun (KS)
Rep Pete Sessions (TX)

Rep Nick Smith (MI)


The Honorable Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
2369 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Office: (202) 225-0697

Dear Mr. Hastert,

Since 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has
been the principal source of compensation for families whose children have
suffered vaccine-related injuries. The NVICP was intended by Congress to
compensate families generously through a non-adversarial process. However,
during hearings before the Government Reform Committee, the program has been
criticized for becoming overly litigious and less compassionate than
intended by Congress.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act of 2002
(H.R. 3741) is bipartisan legislation that builds on a set of
recommendations to improve the program put forward by the Advisory Committee
on Childhood Vaccines. The bill would:

Extend the statute of limitations for seeking compensation from three
years to six years.

Provide a one-time, two-year period for families to file a petition if
they were previously excluded from doing so because they missed the statute
of limitations. (Only for vaccine injuries incurred after 1988.)

Increase the level of compensation to a family after a vaccine-related
death from $250,000 to $300,000. The death benefit has remained unchanged
since 1986.

Allow families of vaccine-injured children to be compensated for the costs
of family counseling and creating and maintaining a guardianship to
administer the funds.

Allow for the payment of interim attorneys fees and legal costs during the
sometimes lengthy adjudication process.

Please support families of vaccine-injured children by co-sponsoring HR 3741
today. Current Co-sponsors include, Reps Burton, Waxman, D. Weldon, Nadler,
JoAnn Davis, T. Davis, Duncan, Frost, Gilman, R. Hall, Horn, Isakson,
Kucinich, LaTourette, McGovern, McHugh, Morella, Norwood, Putnam, Rivers,
Ryun, Sessions, and N. Smith.


Your Name, Address, City, State