almost 80% of all compensated awards by the NVICP come as a “result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.”
the NVICP settlements are funded by an excise tax on vaccines
the NVICP cases are published by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, so all information is disclosed to the public and no safety concerns are hidden
So what does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) really prove?
in state court for vaccine injury, as long as the claim is not of design defect, and as long as they have already gone through Vaccine Court
So it certainly isn’t true that “under no circumstance may you sue a vaccine manufacturer.”
What’s the benefit of going through Vaccine Court, “a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions?”
For one thing, the majority of compensated claims in Vaccine Court are settled claims, in which “cannot be characterized as a decision by HHS or by the Court that the vaccine caused an injury.”
It is likely that at least some of those claims wouldn’t win if they weren’t in Vaccine Court, where:
causation is presumed (you automatically win) if you are claiming a table injury
the rules for evidence are relaxed and expert testimony does not necessarily have to meet the strict requirements of the Daubert standard
petitioners must meet a fairly lenient standard to win, the regular standard of proof for a civil trial (more likely than not), but only have to provide a plausible theory for vaccine injury. Instead of providing scientific evidence or proving causation, they simply have to provide a theory that “is ‘logical’ and legally probable, not medically or scientifically certain.”
you don’t have to show that the vaccine was defective to make your case
Another benefit of Vaccine Court? All lawyer fees are paid, whether you win or lose, and lawyers do not get part of the award if you win. In traditional court, lawyers might get up to thirty-three percent of your award.
What to Know About Vaccine Manufacturer Liability and Vaccine Court
Although they must usually go through Vaccine Court first, folks can still sue vaccine manufacturers in some cases.
More on Vaccine Manufacturer Liability and Vaccine Court
A lot happened in regards to vaccines when Reagan was President. After all, he was the President who signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which created VAERS and the NVICP!
What else happened?
“…the Reagan Administration starved the Federal program for childhood immunization…”
The Shame of Measles
That’s right, Federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point during Reagan’s years in office, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance also increased.
That’s not a good mix!
“During the Reagan years, the price of vaccine went up and Federal funding for childhood immunization went down.”
So even if Federal funding for vaccines had stayed the same, it would essentially have been a big cut!
“Measles is a wholly preventable disease, and it was almost eradicated from the country in 1983, when only 1,497 cases were reported. But by 1990, after Federal budget cuts and the end of the Government’s monitoring of immunization programs, more than 30,000 cases of measles and more than 60 deaths were reported.”
Panel Ties Measles Epidemic to Breakdown in Health System
All of this followed President Jimmy Carter’s National Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1977, which reached its goal of immunizing over 90% of children!
Not surprisingly, this followed a growth in federal grants from $5 million to $35 million towards state immunization budgets. Yes, it costs money to get kids vaccinated and protected. But don’t forget that it costs even more money to control outbreaks once they start.
“Immunization policy during the Carter Administration demonstrated that when both an administration and key congressional actors viewed immunization as a priority and made sufficient funds available to support the public health delivery system and its infrastructure, coverage levels would continue to rise and disease levels continue to decline.”
Johnson et al on Federal immunization policy and funding: A history of responding to crises
Unfortunately, the coverage levels and growth during the Carter administration weren’t sustained for very long after Reagan took office in 1981.
As can be expected, neither were declines in rates of measles.
Instead, we eventually saw big outbreaks of measles across the United States. From 1989 to 1991, at least 123 people died among 55,000 cases, with another 11,000 hospitalized.
“The measles outbreak of 1989–1991 exposed many incorrect assumptions behind the belief that low levels of coverage were sufficient to control the transmission of infectious disease. The changing demographics of society, the mixing of young children in day care settings, new patterns of health care delivery, high rates of uninsured children, and the shrinking size and morale of health departments all fostered circumstances in which disease transmission occurred within major metropolitan areas even though disease reports were low, and state health officials believed statewide immunization coverage was at acceptable levels.”
Calling the Shots: Immunization Finance Policies and Practices
How did it get fixed?
President George HW Bush announced his own immunization action plan to raise vaccinated rates, and we once again put more Federal money into our immunization programs.
Immunization rates went up and the outbreaks stopped.
The President and the Children
Outbreaks that didn’t have to happen.
A 1987 op-ed in the New York Times warned about was coming and how to prevent it…
“Each dollar spent to immunize young children saves $10 in later medical costs. Yet in 1985, one of four children between ages 1 and 4 was not immunized for rubella, mumps, polio or measles and 13 percent lacked immunization for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Congress would increase funding by about $20 million, enough to immunize 600,000 more youngsters.”
The Reagan administration didn’t listen.
Are we headed for something similar in the years ahead?
the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired on September 30 and it has yet to be reauthorized
the short-term CHIP “fix” took $750 million cut from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides 40% of the total funding for the CDC’s immunization program
the Section 317 Immunization Program was already slated for a big drop in President Trump’s FY 2018 Budget
So we may have fewer kids with insurance and less money for immunization programs.
When did we last see that scenario?
Take Action and remind Congress and our President of the “critical role” they play in protecting our children and that they should #PutKidsFirst.
“As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly disease.”
Sens. Lamar Alexander et al Dear Colleague Letter
“Supporting the availability and use of vaccines” does not mean decreasing funding for vaccine programs!
And protecting “Americans from deadly disease” certainly does not mean having fewer people covered on insurance plans.
What to Know About Ronald Reagan’s Vaccine Policy
Ronald Reagan essentially starved the Federal program for childhood immunization, which led to lower vaccine rates and deadly outbreaks of measles. Let’s not allow history to repeat itself.
It is not uncommon to hear about parents having ‘panic attacks’ over the idea of vaccinating their kids.
“…many parents are inundated with horror stories of vaccine dangers, all designed to eat away at them emotionally while the medical and scientific communities have mounted their characteristic response by sharing the facts, the data, and all of the reliable peer-reviewed and well-cited research to show that vaccines are safe and effective.”
Federman on Understanding Vaccines: A Public Imperative
“…recognizes the importance of examples—testimonials and stories—that are the lifeblood of vaccine-hesitant beliefs.”
Nathan Rodriguez on Vaccine-Hesitant Justifications
Vaccine injury stories aren’t new though.
These types of anecdotal stories were very popular when folks used to think that the DPT vaccine was causing a lot of side effects. It wasn’t though. And it was soon proven that the DPT vaccine didn’t cause SIDS, encephalitis, non-febrile seizures, and many other things it was supposed to have caused.
“Anecdotes – about a new miracle cure, a drug that is not being made available on the NHS, or the side effects of treatment, or some environmental hazard – sell product. Data, on the other hand, which take us towards the truth about these things, are less popular. Anecdotes, however many times they are multiplied, do not point the way to reliable knowledge. As the aphorism says, “The plural of anecdote is not data”.”
Raymond Tallis on Anecdotes, data and the curse of the media case study.
That anecdotes “sell” better than data may be one reason why you see them so often on anti-vaccine websites. Another is that they simply don’t have any good data to use as evidence!
Are Vaccine Injury Stories True?
Vaccines are not 100% safe, so there is no doubt that some vaccine injury stories are true.
There is also no doubt that what many people perceive to be vaccine injuries have actually been proven to not be caused by vaccines, from allergies and eczema to autism and MS.
“In the absence of a specific etiology for ASDs, and a tendency among parents of children with a disability to feel a strong sense of guilt, it is not surprising that parents attempt to form their own explanations for the disorder in order to cope with the diagnosis.”
Mercer et al on Parental perspectives on the causes of an autism spectrum disorder in their children
Also keep in mind that in addition to the many so-called vaccine induced diseases, there are many historical vaccine injury stories that have been shown to be untrue:
Johnnie Kinnear supposedly began having seizures 7 hours after getting a DPT vaccine, when he was 14-months-old, but medical records actually shown that his seizures started 5 months after he received his vaccines
Dravet syndrome now explains many severe seizures associated with vaccinations
And at least one of Wakefield’s own followers – a mother who claimed that the MMR vaccine caused her son’s autism, was “dismissed as a manipulative liar” by a court in the UK.
Vaccine Injury Stories are Dangerous
Do vaccine injury stories have a purpose? They might help a parent cope with a diagnosis in the short term, but vaccine injury stories are dangerous in so many ways.
We have seen how they create anxiety for many parents, which can scare them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.
What else can they do?
They can certainly build up mistrust towards pediatricians and other health professionals. That is one way that the anti-vaccine movement continues to hurt autistic families. They also can lead parents to think that their “vaccine injured” child is “damaged” in some way.
And they push parents towards dangerous, unproven, unnecessary, and expensive alternative treatments. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of the sites and forums that push vaccine injury stories also promote a lot of dangerous advice.