Take Action In Support of National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
By Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child By Two
Last week a group of activists from The Canary Party held a Congressional briefing which was intended to raise criticism of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). In response, Shot of Prevention posted a detailed rebuttal, written by vaccine advocate and law professor Dorit Reiss, which addressed the issues raised during the hearing. We have since learned that Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has responded to the briefing by scheduling a full hearing to review the NVICP. Unfortunately, since the Canary Party openly subscribes to the belief that ingredients in vaccines cause harm, there is reason to believe that this hearing may not only address concerns regarding the NVICP, but will once again question the widely refuted hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.
We have been down this road before. Several times actually. And the science is clear on this issue. Vaccines don’t cause autism. That is why vaccine advocacy organizations, like Every Child By Two and many others, are asking for your support. We’re working to educate the committee members regarding the benefits of the current compensation program, to alert them to improvements that have already been suggested by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV), and to help suggest experts who can testify in regards to each of the concerns raised.
But the members of the committee need to hear from you as well. Below is a summary of our collective concerns and we’re asking you to include discussion of these points in a phone call or email to the committee members for their consideration.
Some background information on the
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP):
In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, creating the NVICP as a no-fault alternative to the tort system. NVICP is the quickest, easiest way to ensure that those rare individuals who have been injured by a vaccine are appropriately compensated. Because petitioners do not have to prove fault but only causation, it is easier to prevail in the NVICP than it would be in civil court. The program has paid out over $2.7 billion to 3,412 petitioners since the program’s first filings in 1989. In order to encourage attorneys to take on these cases, the program is the only court that pays attorneys’ fees regardless of whether the petitioner is successful. The program has paid over $162.4 million to attorneys in both successful and unsuccessful cases.
Fortunately, when the program was created a mechanism for ongoing oversight was initiated with the creation of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV). The ACCV consists of nine voting members (two of whom are parents of vaccine injured children) who meet regularly each year to make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues relating to the NVICP. Every Child By Two would like to urge people to email members of the Committee in order to ensure that the NVICP remains in effect and that the focus remains on areas where the program can be improved, without digression into other matters.
Some points to include in your correspondence:
The program works. NVICP is critical to ensuring the compensation of individuals who, in rare instances, have been harmed by vaccines. Over 3,000 petitioners have been compensated over $2.7 billion since the program’s inception. A few people, making false claims against vaccines, should not be allowed to derail the entire system.
The program advances vaccine development. This program has saved lives by encouraging vaccine companies to develop life-saving vaccines such as those against hepatitis, pneumococcal disease, HIB, HPV, and meningitis, to name a few.
Remedies to the current program can be facilitated through the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV). Recommendations for improvements to the program which have been made by the commission in place, are not always acted upon, but are already detailed at the following link http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/commissionchildvaccines.html.
The science is in: Vaccines do NOT cause autism. Countless public health agencies around the world have tested and retested the theory that vaccines cause autism. All have concluded that they do not. For a list of safety studies see our Vaccinate Your Baby website.
Some petitioners are not awarded compensation because they are not vaccine-injured. To dismantle the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in order to appease fringe groups that have had their day in court would be a great disservice to public health. In 2009 and 2010 a panel of Special Masters ruled on six test cases of theories alleging that vaccines cause autism. The Special Masters concluded that in these cases, vaccines do not cause autism. Three of the six test cases explored the theory that thimerosal-containing vaccines, in combination with the MMR vaccine, cause autism and three cases explored whether vaccines containing thimerosal alone cause autism. The evidence was so poor the petitioners did not even try their third theory that MMR vaccine alone can cause autism. In both cases, the court ruled unequivocally that “vaccines do not cause autism”. The rulings, written up in lengthy summaries by the separate Special Masters, made it abundantly clear that the evidence on the side of science far outweighed the anecdotal evidence of the claimants. Special Master George Hastings wrote about one of the tests cases,
“This case, however, is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories…In short, this is a case in which the evidence is so one-sided that any nuances in the interpretation of the causation case-law would make no difference to the outcome of the case.”
If the hearing steers towards the autism/vaccine connection again it may cause families to delay or decline vaccinations. Media coverage of hearings on vaccines and autism in the late 90’s, early 2000’s resulted in a spiraling downward trend in vaccine confidence among the public. The increasing number of parents who are delaying or declining vaccines based on this misinformation has resulted in disease outbreaks across the country and abroad. We cannot afford to lose one more child to a disease that can be safely prevented by vaccines.
The witness panel needs to be balanced. The Committee should ensure that the hearing includes public health witnesses who can testify to the importance of this program on the nation’s health.
How to take action:
Every Child By Two is encouraging everyone to contact the members of the committee today. Please feel free to use the wording contained in this letter (click here) and to reference the points listed above. We suggest that you also include your personal interest in this issue. For example, “I’m a concerned parent“, “My child contracted a vaccine preventable disease“, “I’m a public health advocate and have witnessed the outbreaks“, “I fear that the increase in vaccine exemptions in my community may put children at risk” etc.
For a listing of the committee members and their contact information click here. We encourage you to email all of the members as soon as possible and/or call their offices to express your concerns. If a member is from your state/district it would be most effective if you send them a personal email stating that you are their constituent.
If you care about the health of our children, please take action on this immediately. There is a concerted effort among those who doubt the safety of vaccines to reach out to members of the committee. Therefore, it is imperative that we voice our support as quickly and affirmatively as possible.