Legal Shield


Immunity for companies leaves Tennesseans wondering who’s right

The challenge facing Tennesseans and the world about Covid-19 vaccines is what to believe, who to believe, and when to believe what we’re told about them—and if there’s anything that can be done legally if after being vaccinated something goes wrong. Given what happened to me, I wondered about this myself. 

I believe in the value of vaccinations and was jabbed at the earliest possible moment. Then, trouble. I have a chronic skin condition that when angry feels like a cross between hundreds of ants biting me and being doused by scalding oil. Typically, with my allergist’s direction, it’s well managed. However, after the vaccinations the rash exploded on me in a scary way and lasted for months. Two doctors and a pharmacist warned me to avoid the booster. 

It’s always easier to condemn than consider, and there’s been considerable condemnation about vaccines, much of it politically motivated. Anyone who even asked questions about whether vaccines were safe was often categorized as anti-science mental deficients, in contrast to those seen as government-worshiping herds of true vaccine believers. But those aren’t the viewpoints of most, just the loudest. 

In March 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was ordered by a Texas federal court judge to release documents—eventually more than 80,000 pages—related to the FDA’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine processes, stemming from a September 2021 Freedom of Information Act request from a group of scientists, as described by Reuters. The FDA originally responded to the request asking the court for up to 55 years to respond to the complete request. If the FDA wanted to create theories, conspiracy or otherwise, about vaccine safety, it couldn’t have adopted a better strategy. But the court said no. Within days of the ensuing document dump in March, there were claims on social media that the papers proved the vaccines were only 12 percent effective, followed by reams of analysis saying the figure was untrue and the vaccines are effective. 

So what are we to believe? An inescapable fact is that if Covid vaccines result in rough side effects, illness, or death, there’s not much you can do against vaaccine manufacturers. A Dec. 23, 2020 CNBC article—entitled “You can’t sue Pfizer or Moderna if you have severe Covid vaccine side effects” —details, “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 and Moderna immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines.”

There are substantial reasons why vaccine manufacturers were provided legal shields, in this case the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act passed in 2005. Without such protection, there might never have been vaccines, as companies—justifiably—would have been concerned about the expense of defending themselves against lawsuits brought by people who believed, rightly or wrongly, that the vaccine caused them lasting harm. 

Another complicating factor is the contradictory messages sent by medical and government experts. The authorities, including the oft-quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci, consistently said that a safe vaccine would take at least 18 months to create. But when it actually took half that time, the same experts pledged that the vaccine was safe and effective. Indeed, were they not in existence, our present lives would more than likely be considerably less safe, require more rules, and more people would be dead. 

In the end, it matters not what anyone thinks, believes, wonders, or even can prove about vaccines. If you’re looking for a lawyer because you think the vaccines hurt you, PREP yourself for disappointment.  

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