No State Immunity for Harmful Vaccinations

The state Health and Safety Code does not protect physicians or anyone else who vaccinates a Medicare patient in a hospital if the patient is harmed by the shot, says a Texas attorney general's opinion issued Nov. 17, 2004.

The code provides liability protection when the immunization is required by law. Although the law requires nursing homes to offer certain immunizations to the elderly, no law or rule requires immunization of Medicare patients in a hospital, Opinion No. GA-0271 (PDF) said.

Medicare covers vaccinations that patients receive in hospitals under a standing order from a physician. Any hospital protocol you approve for carrying out a standing order should include informing Medicare patients of any real risks of receiving vaccinations.

There is a way for patients injured by a vaccination to be compensated without blame being assigned to the person giving the shot. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program provides no-fault compensation for certain vaccine injuries as delineated in this table (PDF).

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