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Claims for vaccine-related injuries are rare

At a time when the failure of childhood immunization has been at the root of the largest measles epidemic in decades, a little-known database offers a way to measure vaccine safety.

More or less the last twelve years in the USA, people have received about 126 million doses of measles vaccine, a disease that once infected millions of American children and killed 400 to 500 people each year. During this period, 284 people have applied the damage caused by these vaccinations through a federal program created to compensate people injured by vaccines. About half of these requests were rejected, while 143 were compensated.

The data comes from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system established in 1988 after federal legislation established it as the place where claims for harm caused by vaccines must be filed and evaluated. It currently covers claims related to 15 childhood vaccines and the seasonal flu vaccine.

Over the past three decades, when billions of doses of vaccines have been administered to hundreds of millions of Americans, the program has compensated about 6,600 people for the injuries that would have been caused by the vaccines. About 70% of sentences have been settlements in cases where program managers has not found enough evidence of the vaccine's fault.

"Vaccine-related injuries are rare," said Renée Gentry, a lawyer who has been representing people who have been filing vaccine injury claims for almost 18 years. Nevertheless, she said, "These are pharmaceuticals and people can respond to them – you may have a bad reaction to aspirin. They are not magical. "

In recent years, many program payments have been linked to influenza vaccines, mainly involving adults.

A total compensation of $ 4.15 billion has been paid since the program's inception. A small proportion of claims involve deaths. In 30 years, about 520 deaths have been compensated. Nearly half of them involved an older pertussis vaccine that had not been used for two decades.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that vaccines prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children over a period of 20 years.

A growing proportion of recent claims, about half of all petitions since 2017, do not concern the content of the vaccines themselves. Rather, it is shoulder injuries, usually to adults, caused by the injection of a health care provider. a vaccine too high on the shoulder or in the joints rather than in muscle tissue. This can cause an inflammatory reaction leading to shoulder pain and limited movement.

Angela Barry, a fifth grade teacher in Niceville, Florida, said she immediately felt intense pain and that she could barely lift her arm after receiving a tetanus injection at a pharmacy clinic where her cat was scratched her face in 2015. She later learned that the person who had administered the injection had just graduated from a medical program. medical assistants and had apparently injected the vaccine in the wrong place.

Ms. Barry finally needed cortisone injections, surgery and several months of physical therapy, she said.

She said that she had quickly reported the incident to the Vaccine-related adverse event reporting system sponsored by C.D.C. and the Food and Drug Administration. During this process, she became aware of the personal injury compensation program, which agreed that her injury was vaccine-related and covered her medical expenses and potential future expenses.

Ms. Barry said that she always gets vaccinated. "I would not want anyone to hear this story and say," Oh, there is another reason not to get vaccinated, "she said.

The tetanus vaccine is considered so vital that 576 million doses containing it (often with diphtheria and pertussis) have been eliminated. administered from 2006 to 2017 – and 719 injury claims were compensated, according to the data.

Getting tetanus can be devastating, as has shown a case in 2017 in Oregon. According to a C.D.C. report on this case, a 6-year-old boy who had not been vaccinated contracted tetanus as a result of a cut at the front and had to spend 57 days in the hospital. For much of that period he was in so much pain caused by muscle spasms that he had to be kept in a dark room, wearing earplugs. His care cost more than $ 800,000. The cost of a five-dose treatment of the tetanus vaccine, which would have prevented its suffering, is about $ 150.

In very rare cases, vaccines can cause death. A person may experience anaphylactic shock or a fatal case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Since 1988, more than half of the 1,300 death claims have been rejected because the program found insufficient evidence of vaccine liability.

About 90 of the 520 compensated death claims were for the influenza vaccine. Almost Half of the claims for death were for DTP, an early vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (also known as whooping cough). The pertussis formulation, known as the whole cell, was replaced in the 1990s by acellular versions contained in the current DTaP and Tdap vaccines.

The vaccine compensation program was created following a flood of lawsuits, particularly from DTP, encouraging pharmaceutical companies to abandon the vaccine sector. Public health officials and Congress feared that there were not enough manufacturers providing essential vaccines.

A 1986 law created the compensation fund, funded by a tax paid by vaccine manufacturers 75 cents per dose. The law acts as a shield of responsibility for pharmaceutical companies: Individuals claiming to have suffered an injury must first seek redress from the Federal Court of Claims Program of the United States and the Ministry of Health and Social Services before they can sue a manufacturer.

There are about 2,800 pending cases to be resolved, which takes on average two to three years.

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