What to do when vaccines go wrong - KCTV5 News

What to do when vaccines go wrong

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Every year, millions of people receive vaccinations. Those vaccinations are designed to keep people healthy and prevent serious illnesses like the measles or flu. (KCTV5) Every year, millions of people receive vaccinations. Those vaccinations are designed to keep people healthy and prevent serious illnesses like the measles or flu. (KCTV5)
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

Every year, millions of people receive vaccinations. Those vaccinations are designed to keep people healthy and prevent serious illnesses like the measles or flu.

Sometimes, things go wrong. And, when that happens, patients can only seek recourse at what’s known as vaccine court, a government program run by the Department of Health that compensates the injured.

If you’ve never heard of vaccine court you aren’t alone.

Efi Kamara had a terrible response to a flu vaccine and even became paralyzed for a short period. The Overland Park man didn’t know this government program even existed until his wife heard about it from friends.

Kamara is sharing his story about rebuilding his life and what he thinks about vaccines today.

"Some of it was painful and some of it was emotionally hard," he said.

"In the matter of a week or so, he was unable to do anything by himself from eating going to toilet brushing teeth, talking ... he couldn't do anything," said his wife, Orit Kamara.

"I didn't know what was going on. I'm getting more and more paralyzed and more things didn't work," Efi Kamara said.

Doctors diagnosed him with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a medical condition where your immune system attacks the nerves. It’s incredibly rare. Scientists link the onset to infections and surgeries. It can also be a reaction to a vaccine.

Efi Kamara had a flu shot six weeks before he became sick. His doctors say that flu shot triggered this rare response.

"Couldn't move my hands. Eventually, they put eye drops on my eyes because I couldn't do that," he said.

He also had a stroke while recovering. It was weeks in the hospital and then months of recovery.

"Recovery was a good thing for me. It was inspiring. I don't know how to explain it," he said.

He credits his faith, family and friends for all of their support, but it’s pretty obvious his outlook played a part.

Efi Kamara has mostly recovered, but there is permanent damage from the stroke which happened during his recovery.

"There were tough moments especially when my dad had a stroke and couldn't communicate," his daughter, Gili Kamara said.

Efi Kamara and his family eventually heard about vaccine court.

The real name is the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. It’s a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims.

"We were lucky to hear about it. I don't know if we didn't hear from friends what our situation would be today. Very different and very stressful," Efi Kamara said.

Since 1988, over 18,897 petitions have been filed with the VICP. Over that 29-year time period, 16,857 petitions have been adjudicated with 5,782 of those determined to be compensate, while 11,075 were dismissed.

Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.7 billion.

You may not realize it, but if you’ve had a vaccine, you’ve chipped into that fund. You pay 75-cents for every vaccine, and that’s how the program is funded.

The number of claims patients have filed with the vaccine compensation program really hit a peak about a decade ago and then leveled off.

Not every claim is awarded money. In the past few years, the number of cases where injuries led to compensation has jumped to the highest levels. It’s been more than 600 cases per year.

"I was one of the statistics hurt from the vaccine," Efi Kamara said.

His family has not changed their outlook on vaccines. They are grateful for a streamlined-government program which compensated them for an incredibly rare side effect.

Efi Kamara's life is different today and a bit slower. He no longer has the fine motor skills to carve his beloved wood, but he’s grateful for his recovery.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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