The warp-speed rollout of a covid vaccine has brought hope to hundreds of millions of people along with apprehension over reports of allergic reactions among a few of the earliest recipients — frontline healthcare workers.
Pfizer, Moderna and pharmaceutical companies like them that make covid-19 vaccines have total immunity from liability against people who suffer serious injury if something unintentionally goes wrong, lawyers told CNBC.
Vaccine makers are covered by the PREP Act — a rare blanket immunity invoked in February by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. PREP — the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act empowered Azar to give companies making or distributing critical medical supplies — such as vaccines and treatments — legal protection. As long as there’s no “willful misconduct” by the company, protection lasts until 2024, CNBC reported.
It’s rare for pharmaceutical companies to get much liability protection under the law, according to Rogge Dunn, a Dallas labor and employment attorney.
The unprecedented protection is all about the warp-speed timeline, Dunn suggested.
“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,’” Dunn said.
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Pfizer and Moderna aren’t the only ones protected. You also can’t sue your boss for mandating vaccination as a condition of employment and you the can’t sue the government for authorizing a vaccine for emergency use.
“You can’t sue the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for approving or disapproving a drug,” University of California Hastings College of Law Prof. Dorit Reiss told CNBC. “That’s part of its sovereign immunity.”
So basically no one can ibe blamed if someone develops an allergic reaction to the coornavirus vaccine.
However, immunity won’t stop all the lawsuits related to covid-19 vaccinations. It’s just a matter of time before litigation makes its way to the Supreme Court, said Lexington attorney Sandra Spurgeon.
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“There’s law firms recruiting folks who have contracted covid and/or their families, people have contracted covid in an employee setting, to sue the employer,” Spurgeon told CBS affiliate WKYT-TV. “… The argument will be, ‘Well, we have a policy that requires the employees be vaccinated, and, so then people are going to refuse to be vaccinated and they’re going to cite their constitutional rights.’”
The Supreme Court will speak to federal regulations, Spurgeon predicted.
“They will expedite the rulings from the district to the appellate to the U.S. Supreme Court because there will have to be clarity.”
Spurgeon also said she believes private businesses will be able to require customers to show proof of vaccination unless the customers are in a protected class.