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A vaccine injury is an injury caused by vaccination. Historically, allegations of vaccine injuries have come in waves, and have been closely related to litigation, and publicity surrounding that litigation.
Allegations of vaccine injuries in recent decades have appeared in litigation in the United States. Some families have won substantial awards from sympathetic juries, even though most public health officials believed that the claims of injuries were unfounded. In response, several vaccine makers stopped production, threatening public health, and laws were passed to shield makers from liabilities stemming from vaccine injury claims. Globally, billions of dollars have been paid out to the families of alleged victims, and potential cumulative liability many times that amount has been estimated.
 Adverse events following immunization
All vaccines may cause side effects, and immunization safety is a real concern. Controversies in this area revolve around the question of whether the risks of adverse events following immunization outweigh the benefits of saving children from tragic outcomes of common diseases. There is scientific evidence that some adverse events are caused by immunization, such as oral polio vaccine causing paralysis, but these events are extremely rare. Controversy exists over whether more-common disorders such as autism are caused by vaccines, with allegations particularly focusing on the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and on thiomersal, a preservative that has been reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely given to U.S. children less than 24 months of age. Nearly 5,000 U.S. families of autistic children have lodged claims for compensation from a federal fund, saying that their health problems were caused by common childhood vaccines. Large scientific studies have found no association, and no autism claim has been paid from the fund so far.
 United States
 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
In 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) went into effect to compensate individuals and families of individuals who have been injured by covered childhood vaccines. The VICP was adopted in response to an earlier scare over the pertussis portion of the DPT vaccine. These claims were later generally discredited, but some U.S. lawsuits against vaccine makers won substantial awards; most makers ceased production, and the last remaining major manufacturer threatened to do so. It uses a no-fault alternative dispute resolution system for resolving vaccine injury claims. Funding for claims of harm after 1988 comes from a patient fee of 75 cents per vaccination. To win an award, a claimant must show a causal connection; if medical records show a child has one of several listed adverse effects soon after vaccination, the assumption is that it was caused by the vaccine. The proof standard is the civil-law preponderance of the evidence, showing that causation was more likely than not. Claims that are denied can be pursued in regular lawsuits, though this is rare. Some claimants are having some luck suing thimerosal makers instead of vaccine makers, filing class-action suits, or demanding monitoring for vaccinated children who do not show signs of autism.
The VICP covers all vaccines listed on the Vaccine Injury Table maintained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. From 1988 until 2008–01-08, 5,263 claims relating to autism, and 2,865 non-autism claims, were made to the VICP. 925 of these claims, one autism-related, were compensated, with 1,158 non-autism and 350 autism claims dismissed; awards (including attorney’s fees) totaled $847 million. The VICP also applies to claims for injuries suffered before 1988; there were 4,264 of these claims of which 1,189 were compensated with awards totaling $903 million.
 Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System
VAERS is intended to track adverse events associated with vaccines. VAERS collects and analyzes information from reports of adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of US licensed vaccines. The program’s success in tracking vaccine injuries has been questioned by some, who allege medical practitioners frequently fail to make reports. Others say that it may overstate possible injuries since many neurological problems in childhood may manifest at around the ages when vaccines are routinely administered.
 Vaccine Safety Datalink
The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) is comprised of databases from several organizations containing information regarding health outcomes for millions of US citizens and to enhance assessment of vaccine injuries. It was designed to allow for such things as comparisons between vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations, and for the identification of possible groups at risk for adverse events.
 United Kingdom
In 2003, parents of over 1,000 United Kingdom children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, alleging the MMR vaccine was the culprit, were dealt a major setback by decision by the Legal Services Commission to withdraw legal aid. This followed advice to the commission by the lawyers representing the parents themselves that the lawsuit had no reasonable prospects of success.
 Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme
Under the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS), it is thought that thousands of unsuccessful claims have been made. The maximum payment per claim is currently £100,000. Disabled vaccine injury patients are allowed to file a claim up to the age of 21. The ‘disability threshold’ before payments are granted is 60%. The scheme covers vaccinations for illnesses such as tetanus, measles, tuberculosis and meningitis C. As of 2005, the British government had paid out £3.5 million to vaccine injury patients since 1997.
- ^ a b c d Sugarman SD (2007). “Cases in vaccine court—legal battles over vaccines and autism“. N Engl J Med 357 (13): 1275–7. PMID 17898095.
- ^ Bonhoeffer J, Heininger U (2007). “Adverse events following immunization: perception and evidence”. Curr Opin Infect Dis 20 (3): 237–46. doi:10.1097/QCO.0b013e32811ebfb0. PMID 17471032.
- ^ McMahon AW, Iskander JK, Haber P, Braun MM, Ball R (2008). “Inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) in children <2 years of age: examination of selected adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) after thimerosal-free or thimerosal-containing vaccine”. Vaccine 26 (3): 427–9. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.10.071. PMID 18093701.
- ^ Edlich RF, Olson DM, Olson BM et al. (2007). “Update on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program”. J Emerg Med 33 (2): 199–211. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.01.001. PMID 17692778.
- ^ Vaccine Injury Table (2007). Retrieved on 2008–01-22.
- ^ National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program statistics reports. Health Resources and Services Administration (2008–01-08). Retrieved on 2008–01-22.
- ^ BBC NEWS | Health | £3.5m paid out in vaccine damages
 External links
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- http://www.direct.gov.uk/disability-vdp UK govt informaation on applying for vaccine damage payments
- FDA.gov – ‘Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)’, US Food and Drug Administration
- HRSA.gov – ‘National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’ (VICP), Health Resources and Services Administration
- HHS.gov – ‘Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System’, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services