As vaccines remain a controversial, yet important part of a society’s national health, those who experience side effects and adverse reactions often seek compensation. The United States Court of Federal Claims specifically deals with this issue.
Commonly called vaccine court, this Office of Special Masters division
provides a “no-fault compensation program whereby petitions for monetary compensation may be brought … as a result of the administration of certain compulsory childhood vaccines,” its website states.
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The program was created to replace tort litigation, which holds pharmaceutical companies at fault and is often lengthy and costly. Furthermore, Matt Kibbe argued in a Forbes article
that tort litigation often wrongly holds companies accountable.
The government created the program in 1986 as a part of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The act followed a series of lawsuits against drug companies, which threatened to cease production of vaccines, NPR reported.
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“There was a real fear that some of our childhood vaccines would no longer be available,” Anna Kirkland, a professor at the University of Michigan, told NPR. “Basically what [vaccine court] did was shield the vaccine makers from liability.”
The court also makes the process easier by addressing many of the common side effects in a vaccine injury table. The table, created by the Department of Health and Human Services,
outlines a framework to determine if effects such as anaphy
lactic shock occurred as a result of the vaccine, or another factor.
The vaccine court has been criticized in in 2015 after a year’s worth of data was removed from its online public charts. Author and reporter Sharyl Attkisson said
the data was removed because it showed a sharp increase in people winning cases after bad reactions to vaccines.
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