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Certain Vaccine Reactions Can Qualify as Workplace Injuries

Feb 18, 2016 Brown Moore Workers' Compensation

Health care workers or individuals who work around small children are two examples of people who may be required to get vaccinated as a condition of employment. While our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys fully support the importance of taking action to avoid the spread of disease, there are some cases when vaccination recipients suffer serious reactions. In these cases, workers may not recognize that they might have the right to receive benefits in accordance with subsection 97-53 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.

Vaccines are Not Safe for Everyone

Even though debates about the safety of vaccines have continued for many years, it seems clear that the benefits of common vaccines clearly outweigh the risks. Some individuals, however, suffer side effects, ranging from minor to life-threatening. For example, the measles vaccine, which has largely eradicated a dangerous and highly-communicable disease, can also carry side effects such as the following:

  • Injection site reactions, which can involve burning, swelling and blistering.
  • Allergic reactions that can include skin conditions and itching, facial swelling, severe weakness and difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea.
  • Blood conditions linked to the vaccine, which can include thrombocytopenia (low platelet count, which can rarely cause internal bleeding), high white cell blood count and other conditions.
  • Ocular effects, including conjunctivitis (pink eye) and more-serious conditions such as retinitis, papillitis and neuritis.
  • Cardiovascular issues that involve concerns with vasculitis, a serious inflammation of the blood vessels that can cause serious harm to organs.

Some vaccine side-effects are minor, requiring little, if any, time away from work. Other side effects can require hospitalization or result in long-term disabilities or even death. While these circumstances are rare, affected employees or their families need to understand that the related expenses might be covered by workers’ compensation, provided that the vaccines are required as a condition of employment.

Employers and Their Insurers May Unfairly Deny Vaccine-Related Claims

As a general rule, North Carolina law carries no mandatory vaccination requirements for health care workers. However, the law does not prevent individual employers from requiring employee vaccinations, with certain exceptions. When employees suffer severe side-effects from mandatory vaccinations, they may have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits.

Of course, side effects like the ones listed for measles vaccines can have many causes. Since other causes might have no direct connection with employment, employers or their insurers may attempt to deny these claims— even if the conditions appeared in close proximity to the vaccination date.

These claims often require a legal advocate who understands the evidence needed to prove that a serious condition directly relates to employer vaccine mandates. Call us at 800-948-0577 or use our convenient online contact form to get the support that can help turn a claim denial into an accepted claim.