Need for Vaccines
The U.S. has record or near-record low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases, but that does not mean that these diseases have disappeared. Many of the viruses and bacteria that cause disease still proliferate around the world and are only a plane ride away. Vaccines are the best defense against many diseases, which often result in serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain), liver cancer, bloodstream infections, and even death. Therefore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges all people, especially infants and young children, to receive recommended immunizations on time. Schedules for recommended vaccines can be found here:
Although vaccines are held to the highest standards of safety, concerns still exist. And because millions and millions of people are vaccinated each year, even a vaccine that harms just a small percentage of people can still harm many people. Concerns about vaccine safety can make decisions about vaccines difficult. Common concerns related to vaccine safety include:
The Vaccine Court
Lawsuits in the 1970s and 1980s blamed a range of unexplained illnesses such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and mental retardation on childhood vaccines. The success of such lawsuits drove all but one maker of the DTP (Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) vaccine out of the U.S. market. In order to bring vaccine makers back to the U.S., in 1986 Congress passed the Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which (1) protects vaccine makers from personal injury lawsuits and (2) establishes the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to compensate people for injuries from designated vaccines. The fund, which is close to $3 billion now, is built up from surcharges paid for every vaccination covered by the program. The Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (known as the "vaccine court") administers all claims made to the program. Awards vary in size and may pay for past and future medical expenses, rehabilitation, therapies, special education, equipment, placement, lost earnings, up to $250,000 in pain and suffering, and attorneys' fees and costs.
 CDC, Vaccine Safety (February 3, 2014).
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If you have experienced adverse events or side effects from a vaccine find help here.
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