National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Fails our Children Again

February 24, 2009

The families of three children claimed that a measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine had combined with other vaccine ingredients to damage their children, and they sought compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $2.5 billion fund derived from a 75-cent-per-dose tax on vaccines. Now a special US court, the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding, has ruled against the parents. Three “Special Masters” of the program (but no judges) heard the three test cases, which represented thousands of other petitioners.
The parents of one girl argued before the court that she was a normal baby until she received the vaccine. Two reports from the Institute of Medicine, in 2001 and 2004, reviewed the evidence and determined there was no link between vaccines and autism, though flaws have been pointed out in those two reports. While many other studies have also shown no link, a vocal and dedicated group of parents continue to press the cases, and even former National Institutes of Health director Dr. Bernadine Healy warned the health community that the voices of so many parents, who watched their children change in some cases overnight, should not be so easily dismissed. Evidence suggests other factors, including aluminum in vaccines, may be to blame.
The Special Masters also rejected an argument that some children may be genetically “hypersusceptible” to mercury. But that was exactly the argument in the case of Hannah Poling, a precocious, high-functioning, and verbal toddler until, at 19 months, she received a five-shot series of childhood vaccines in July 2000 that “significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder” that resulted in a brain disorder with features of autism. The US Department of Health and Human Services conceded the case.
More than 5,300 cases had been filed by parents under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Under the program, someone injured by a vaccine does not have to prove the vaccine actually caused the injuries. They do need to establish, however, that vaccines sometimes cause that particular injury, as evidenced by the Poling ruling. However the process has proven to be difficult, expensive, and it takes years. The no-fault payout system is meant to protect vaccine makers from costly lawsuits that drove many out of the vaccine-making business. But no one can deny that one out of 150 children in the US (1 out of 93 in NJ) is now diagnosed with autism or a related diagnosis. The reason(s) for this increased incidence of behavior of learning disabilities in the US remains officially unknown.
The advocacy group Autism Speaks said the ruling did not necessarily clear vaccines, or any other potential cause. “We will continue to support authoritative research that addresses unanswered questions about whether certain subgroups of individuals with particular underlying medical or genetic conditions may be more vulnerable to adverse effects of vaccines,” the group said in a statement. The National Vaccine Information Center’s president said more studies are needed. “I think it is a mistake to conclude that, because these few test cases were denied compensation, it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism,” said Barbara Loe Fisher.
AAHF has written a position paper against mandatory vaccination. You should also be aware that the new stimulus package contains funds to expand the federal mandatory vaccination program.

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One response to “National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Fails our Children Again”

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