Do vaccines cause illness in children? If a parent believes that his or her child has been injured by a vaccine, is there a legal remedy?
In recent consolidated cases before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, parents sued the Secretary for Health and Human Services for illnesses they claim were caused by the administration of vaccines to their respective daughters.
The parents sought compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, alleging that DTaP (Diptheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis) caused their daughters’ seizure-related illnesses.
In a day and age where numerous theories are floating around on the effect of vaccines in children, how does the court evaluate claims that a vaccine caused illness?
Here, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals found that the petitioner-parents did not present sufficient evidence that the vaccines caused the seizure disorders in the girls.
Parents of both girls alleged that the girls suffered from Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI) as the result of the vaccines.
The parents relied on expert testimony and evaluation by medical professionals, who claimed that the administration of the DTaP vaccine caused fever in the girls, which in turn caused brain damage.
The special master in the case was not convinced. The testimony presented, including the presentation of articles showing a causal link between the vaccine and SMEI, did not show by a preponderance of evidence that the vaccine was the cause of the SMEI in the girls, In fact, the special master concluded that the SMEI was caused by a gene mutation that was present in both girls.
Both claims failed before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Cases involving illness caused by vaccines haven’t had a successful track record in the federal appeals courts. Earlier this year, the D.C. Court of Appeals threw out a case against the FDA involving CoMed, alleging that certain ingredients in vaccines caused autism.
- Autism and Vaccines: CoMed Loses Lawsuit Against FDA to Stop Vaccines (D.C. Circuit Blog)
- Birth Injuries and Adverse Effects of Vaccinations (FindLaw Knowledgebase)
- Search FindLaw Cases and Codes (FindLaw)