Hello everyone! This month I interviewed vaccine injured attorney Christopher Dreisbach. Christopher is one of the founding members of React19 and serves as the organization’s Legal Affairs Director. Chris is currently working on several legislative actions to get compensation for the vaccine injured, and to firmly establish their First Amendment right to free speech.
A side note: When I interviewed Chris, he requested I send him some questions ahead of our interview. Those answers, along with our phone interview, gave me so much information regarding the rights of vaccine injured. I thought I knew a lot about vaccine injury legislation, the vaccine court, and the compensation programs. However, this interview was such an eye opener for me on all I didn’t know. I am going to include that information since there are a lot of good legislative proposals out there for the vaccine injured. And we have people like Chris to thank for that.
Chris’ life changed forever in March of 2021 when he received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. He took the vaccines in order to protect his parents and in-laws. Like what happened to so many of you, when symptoms occurred after the first dose, he didn’t think it was because of the shot. Nevertheless, the initial symptoms were excruciating. “I had a vice like pain in my big left toe, and my feet got really cold. Next, the pain took over all of my toes and I began to experience paresthesias.”
When he checked with doctors they didn’t seem concerned, and instead chalked it up to anxiety. A common initial diagnosis for the vaccine injured. Chris was told to “breathe into a brown paper bag.” The doctors also did not attribute this to any vaccine injury.
Once he received his second dose, he knew it had to be the vaccine. “I started having trouble going up and down stairs and began walking like a duck. My toes started twitching back and forth 24/7 – we called them my dancing toes. The worst part though, then and now, is the constant electrical shock sensations pulsing from my lower spine all the way to my toes.”
Chris was hospitalized and misdiagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a severe inflammation that can occur after an injury. After his hospital visit he saw doctors from John Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and Penn, all to no avail. Many denied any vaccine injury because Chris’ symptoms weren’t listed in the adverse event profile. One doctor was even concerned folks would question the vaccine. When Chris thought he might have atypical Guillain Barre the doctor said to him, “We need to do a better job of people not associating the vaccine with Guillain Barre.”
Finally, a neurologist correctly diagnosed Chris’ vaccine injury and found he had Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), which is an inflammation of the peripheral nervous system leading to a breakdown of the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells.
This disorder forever altered his life. Chris could no longer work in the courtroom, something he loved, and he felt he could no longer be the husband and father he once was. As Chris says, “People need to understand that serious vaccine injury devastates families, not just individuals.”
The financial costs were life altering as well. The current treatment for CIDP that Chris receives is an IVIG treatment that costs 91,000 given every 3 weeks. Thankfully, it is covered by insurance.
Research involving any form of compensation proved dismaying. Chris’ injury claim could only be filed with the CICP (Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program), which has a very restrictive criteria. “It was so ridiculous that my wife (also a lawyer) challenged me to do something about it so I reached out and set up a meeting with my representative, Lloyd Smucker, and a meeting with a member of Senator Robert Casey’s staff.”
I want to pause here and briefly explain vaccine injury compensation history. If you are already aware of this information feel free to skip.
The PREP (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness) Act was designed in 2005 to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, this was done in response to the believed biological terror threat from September 11, 2001. At that time a new compensation fund, the CICP (Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program) was developed. This was a fund paid for by Congressional dollars that was intended to pay for any vaccine injury claims not covered by the VICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program) table. These would include vaccines such as Ebola, small pox, and most recently COVID.
The initial VICP vaccine injury fund developed in agreement with the Reagan administration and the pharmaceutical companies, was, in a way, a compromise between the federal government and private business. The VCIP is funded by an 75 cent excise tax paid for by the pharmaceutical company for each vaccine on the vaccine table (this includes the routine child immunizations). The pharmaceutical companies then would be shielded from liability.
The CICP is very different from the VICP. The CICP has only a 1 year statute of limitations, no judicial review, no coverage for pain and suffering, and does not cover attorney fees. This is unlike the VICP which offers a 3 year statute of limitations, judicial review, coverage for pain and suffering, and attorney fees. And is not currently funded by the 75 cent excise tax.
The VICP also employs special masters (those who make a decision on the vaccine injury and whether or not the claimant should be compensated), and a vaccine court. However, it is unknown who makes case judgments on CICP cases. Nor is there someone to contact. Thanks to this policy very few claims have been awarded. According to Chris, only 8 have been awarded compensation collectively coming in under $31,000.
About this time Chris’ father sent him footage of the Ron Johnson roundtable, featuring Kristi Dobbs discussion of her vaccine injury. The symptoms she experienced were some of the same ones Chris did. Also present at that roundtable was Brianne Dressen who Chris reached out to. This began the labyrinthine journey to find an online social media support group to connect with others suffering from vaccine injury. As Chris recalls, “ I mean it felt like.. getting into a secret club…in Manhattan or something and go place to place before you get…accepted. It was absurd.”
Chris is referring to the high level of censorship on social media platforms in which vaccine injury groups were removed due to “misinformation”. This ultimately resulted in the lawsuits mentioned later in this article, the Missouri v. Biden and Dressen v. Flaherty cases.
Nevertheless, Chris was undaunted. After joining the online social media groups he along with Brianne Dressen, Dr. Danice Hertz, Joel Wallskog, Kristi Dodds, Suzanna Newell, and Shaun Barcavage founded React19. The nonprofit vaccine injury group is now involved in several court cases along with promoting federal legislation for vaccine injury.
As I mentioned earlier the two notable cases React19 is involved in are the Missouri v. Biden and Dressen v. Flaherty. Both are censorship cases involving our federal government and social media. While Missouri v. Biden covers a broader area of censorship complaints, Dressen v. Flaherty specifically discusses censorship of online vaccine injury groups that were removed from social media platforms.
Another important vaccine injury case of note is Smith v. HRSA, a vaccine injury case that names React19 as one of the plaintiffs. As Chris explains, “The pending lawsuit seeks to strike down…portions of the PREP Act pertaining to the CICP in order for us to reclaim our right to seek compensation. In short, we are demanding our Constitutional rights to basic due process that have been stripped away. If this suit is successful, it will apply to the entire COVID vaccine injured community.”
As for federal legislation there are currently two bills which focus on a rehaul of the vaccine compensation programs. HB 5142, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act would in essence remove the CICP and all future vaccine injury claims would be covered under the VICP. There will also be updates to the outdated VICP which include increasing the statute of limitations from 3 to 5 years, increasing the level of special masters from 8 to 10, and increasing the damages cap from 250,000 to 600,000.
The second bill, HB 5143, the Vaccine Access Improvement Act would remove Congress having to approve an excise tax for every new vaccine added to the compensation table. And would also carry the 75 cent excise tax like those vaccines covered under the VICP.
Chris encourages everyone who wishes to help to contact their representatives. I would also add that folks familiarize themselves with the court cases and legislation at hand. There is a lot of information out there to learn, but it is so beneficial to the vaccine injured and their families. Chris also encourages those who have any questions on the legislation, or in how to address their state representatives, to send him an email at Christopher.Dreisbach@react19.org
As you can see, although Chris is no longer in a courtroom, he is still working hard every day to make a difference. I hope I have done him and React19 justice in giving you all a small taste of all the legislative work they have been working on.
Thank you so much, Chris, for all you have done for the vaccine injured, and bringing compensation and injury legislation to the spotlight. It is my hope that all your efforts prove successful
At the moment I am working on my book Coronavirus Chronicles (working title), raising my two wonderful teenage boys, traveling, baking, immersing myself in Judaism, and writing for React19, a grassroots vaccine-injured advocacy group. In the past I also wrote for the musical group New Monkees, and on special education and disability issues.