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Interaction of Illinois workers’ compensation benefits and the COVID-19 vaccine, part 2

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2021 | COVID-19, Workers' Compensation

In part 1 of this post, we talked about Illinois workers’ compensation law and its potential interaction with the coronavirus-vaccine issues. Today we will talk about rare, severe side effects from the vaccine and other more tangential injuries for which employees may file claims.

What kinds of injuries might the COVID-19 vaccine cause?

Most side effects of these vaccines are relatively minor or short-lived, such as a sore arm or short-term symptoms like headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, muscle aches or chills. Usually, payment for temporary disability for missed work under workers’ comp does not kick in until the fourth day away from work, so the initial adverse effects would need to be more serious than usual to be paid for work time missed after the shot – assuming that the injury is covered.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), long-term or serious problems from COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely. Researchers have identified a couple of very rare adverse events:

  • Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction shortly after vaccination
  • Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) that has caused blood clots after the one-shot vaccine, most often in younger women

The CDC says that it is closely monitoring safety issues in this context and should a problem come to light, manufacturers and government agencies will investigate further. For example, the issue could have stemmed from the vaccine itself, a manufacturing problem or a particular lot, explains the agency.

Other injuries or illnesses that could form the basis of a workers’ compensation claim in this context

In part 1, we discussed legal issues related to whether an adverse event from a COVID-19 vaccination would be covered by workers’ compensation. What about more tangential injuries like:

  • An employee driving to an off-site vaccination location sponsored by the employer sustains a head injury in a car accident
  • An employee at that off-site location trips while entering the building because of a dangerous condition on the premises, sustaining a bone fracture.
  • A health care worker reuses a syringe from a previous vaccine recipient, causing transmission to an employee of a virus like hepatitis C or HIV
  • And other similar scenarios

As state courts and the IWCC begin to handle claims and appeals on these issues, the parameters of workers’ compensation coverage will become clearer. In the meantime, anyone injured during the course of receiving a vaccine or with an adverse reaction should give their employer notice, file a claim and talk to an attorney as soon as possible for advice about how to proceed.

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