Guest Column: Vaccine Injury Compensation

Government’s Broken Social Contract with Parents
by Barbara Loe Fisher
National Vaccine Information Center excerpt 11/10/15

Three decades ago, Congress created a federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) and gave the pharmaceutical and medical trade industries a partial product liability shield under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The goal was simple: to restrict civil lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and negligent doctors whenever government mandated vaccines injure and kill Americans. 1

In the 21st century, Congress went further and directed federal agencies to develop a public-private business partnership with the pharmaceutical industry. 2 3 Today, multi-national corporations marketing vaccines enjoy a $15 billion dollar U.S. and $30 billion dollar global vaccine market that will reach $100 billion in 10 years. 4 5

At the same time, Congress appropriates billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to federal agencies working with Big Pharma to develop hundreds of new vaccines, 6 7 while vaccine licensing standards have been lowered so companies can fast-track experimental vaccines to market. 8 9 Meaningful congressional oversight on vaccine regulation and policymaking is non-existent today, in part because the pharmaceutical industry is the number one wealthiest and most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. 10 11 12 13

Obtaining Vaccine Injury Compensation: Do You Feel Lucky?

feel-lucky.jpgParents, who file a claim today on behalf of a brain damaged vaccine injured child in the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) under the 1986 Act, know that the odds of obtaining financial assistance from the government are not much better than the odds of winning a lottery. 14 Department of Health and Justice officials fight almost every award in the U.S. Court of Claims so two out of three vaccine injury claims are denied. 15

Parents already traumatized because their healthy child was permanently disabled or died after receiving a government licensed pharmaceutical product they were promised would keep their child well, are traumatized again in what has become a highly adversarial and lengthy process that too often ends in disbelief, anger and heartbreak.

Government Officials Gut 1986 NCVIA and Betray Public Trust

Congress created the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986 as a social contract between government and parents, who are required under state vaccine laws to give their children federally recommended vaccines in order to attend school. Since 1995, the vaccine injury compensation program set up under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has been systematically gutted by government officials, who vigorously opposed passage of the law in 1986 16 and have been determined to destroy it ever since.

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 effectively completely shielded the pharmaceutical industry from all civil liability for injuries and deaths caused by FDA licensed vaccines, 17 there has been no legal accountability for any corporation or individual who develops, licenses, recommends, promotes, administers or mandates vaccines that injure and kill Americans.

The history of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act is one that has been marked by a profound betrayal of the public trust by government. At the center of that betrayal are doctors and scientists working for government and with industry, who are so determined to deny vaccine risks and cover up the casualties of one-size-fits-all vaccine policies, that they will throw innocent children under the bus to do it.

Toxic DPT Vaccine Brain Injures Children

PertussisI remember walking the halls of Congress in 1982 with other young parents of DPT vaccine injured children asking for a congressional investigation into the safety of the old whole cell pertussis vaccine. We did not understand why federal health agencies had not required drug companies to make that crude vaccine less toxic. We wanted to know why our babies did not have access to the less reactive new split cell pertussis vaccine in the DTaP shot that Japan was giving their children using technology developed in the 1970’s. 18

We knew that the 1981 British National Childhood Encephalopathy Study revealed that 1 in 110,000 DPT shots was followed by brain inflammation and 1 in 310,000 DPT shots by permanent brain damage. 19 We knew another prospective, case controlled study published in the U.S. the same year revealed convulsions occurred after 1 in 875 DPT shots and a collapse shock reaction occurred after 1 in 875 DPT shots, meaning that at least 18,000 children in America were either having convulsions or collapsing after DPT shots. 20 21

But Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials did not know who those children were because pediatricians were not required to report vaccine reactions, or inform parents about how to monitor children for signs and symptoms of vaccine reactions, or keep permanent records of vaccines given, or write down serious health problems following vaccination in medical records.

Big Pharma Demands Liability Protection from Vaccine Injury Lawsuits

pointing-fingers.jpgBack in the 1970’s and 80’s, parents were filing product liability lawsuits against the three drug companies selling DPT vaccine and also against one selling live oral polio vaccine after children were paralyzed by vaccine strain polio. Parents were also filing malpractice lawsuits against pediatricians when their babies were re-vaccinated after reacting to previous DPT shots with convulsions, shock, high pitched screaming and unconsciousness, which can be signs of brain inflammation or encephalopathy, 22 a well known complication of vaccination since the first vaccines for smallpox and rabies were used in the 19th century. 23

Thirty years ago, high-powered attorneys for pharmaceutical corporations and pediatricians were blackmailing parents on the courthouse steps before jury trials began to settle vaccine injury lawsuits without going to trial. Few parents had the financial resources to battle big drug companies in court for long periods of time and so many would settle for low sums of money just before the trial began. As part of the settlement, parents had to agree that all court documents about their child’s vaccine injury would be sealed and blocked from public view.

I was among the parents of DPT vaccine injured children, who organized after watching the Emmy award winning TV documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette in the spring of 1982. We accepted the invitation by congressional leaders taking action after the four drug companies marketing childhood vaccines in the U.S. (Wyeth, Lederle, Merck and Connaught) told Congress they would stop distributing the federally recommended and state mandated DPT, polio and MMR vaccines if Congress refused to give them a liability shield from vaccine injury lawsuits. 24

[Full column here.]

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