"Vaccines are safe ... That's the message we need to get out there."

What is the Vaccine Injury Compensation?

James Hamblin of The Atlantic recently published an article about how the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has fallen awkwardly in between the pro- and anti-vaccine ideologies amidst the country's measles outbreak. Hamblin does a fantastic job throughout the article by illuminating the increasing payouts from the program which can be linked to the expansion of the Vaccine Injury Table.

The beginning of the article is led by a quote from the director of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Dr. Narayan Nair, saying, "Vaccines are safe ... That's the message we need to get out there." Before delving into the creation of the VICP in 1988, Hamblin provides a consolidated history of why it was created by telling the story of eight-month-old Anita Reyes in 1970. In the coming years, the number of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers increased and so did their payouts to those who levied the claims against them. As these cases became more medically complex to argue and expensive to litigate, Congress created the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. In addition, the NCVIA had another aim in quelling the concern of vaccine manufacturers ceasing their production, research and development of current and new vaccines because of the mounting lawsuits from previous years.

From that point forward, any claims of vaccine injury would be filed through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program rather than against the manufacturer itself. Hamblin also mentions a 2015 analysis of the program that cited "the average vaccine-injury claim took longer to adjudicate than the average case alleging malpractice" when studying the programs numbers in the early 2000's. Since that analysis, the program has greatly increased the number of claims being paid out with 2019 set to be a record-breaking year. Although, climbing compensation amounts comes with an increasing skepticism over vaccine safety as Dr. Hamblin points out.

A key stipulation in VICP litigation is that, "being awarded compensation for a petition does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the alleged injury" according to the program's site. The Vaccine Injury Table is regularly updated and has significantly grown since the VICP's inception. An advisory committee meets four times a year to vote on changes and additions to the Table.  The meetings are open to the public. Overall, Dr. Hamblin articulates the purpose of the VICP amid present day vaccine strife extremely well. To read the entire article, you can find it here in the Atlantic's Health section.