The HPV vaccine, causing deaths? Why getting compensation in these cases isn’t easy

WAUKESHA (WITI) — Vaccines are supposed to keep you healthy — but what if they don’t? Late last month, a 12-year-old Waukesha girl died, and her parents believe an HPV shot may be to blame. Now, FOX6 News has learned the path to getting compensation for those who believe they’ve been injured by vaccines isn’t easy, standard or well-known.

The story of 12-year-old Meredith Prohaska’s death got a lot of attention from FOX6 viewers.

The little girl died just hours after receiving the HPV vaccine.

“Make sure you know all the side affects and make sure you’re hugging them all the time,” Prohaska’s mother, Rebecca Prohaska said.

One week before Meredith Prohaska received the vaccine, a 19-year-old in Greenfield suffered a serious reaction.

“He kept saying ‘Ashley, you got to stay with us.’ She’s just completely out of it,” the girl’s mother, Jill Swanson said.

Milwaukee attorney Jerry Konkel says he is one of the few lawyers in Wisconsin certified to file a complaint for those who feel they’ve been injured by vaccines. The process is different from most legal cases.

In 1988, a special fund was created: The federal government’s “Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund” designed to help what Konkel calls the “one in a million” injured by vaccines.

“There are known complications, and then there are complications that are less known. The pharmaceutical industry and the government believe that vaccines are a very good thing and they are generally safe, but they also recognize that people can have adverse reactions and that’s why the system was set up,” Konkel said.

Vaccines go through trials and tests before they are approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

Legally then, to sue one of the pharmaceutical companies, the standard is whether the vaccine is unreasonably dangerous — something that’s difficult to show.

With some local families questioning whether their loved one suffered a rare side effect from a vaccine, Konkel has the same concern.

Two of his children have autism.

While Konkel says in most cases, there is not a clear scientific link to vaccinations and autism, his interest in the issue is both professional and personal.

“As you know, anything you can do to help your kid,” Konkel said.

Konkel says there are caps to government compensation:

  • $250,000 for pain and suffering
  • $250,000 for death
  • No caps for people who end up needing life-long care

A person has three years from the date of the vaccination to make a claim.

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