The United States’ mandatory immunization requirements don’t just benefit the individual, they also benefit the public at large. However, there is still a small chance that someone may react negatively to vaccines, despite overwhelming evidence that they are generally safe.
Because of this small risk, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created for individuals to appeal for financial help if they believed harm came from a vaccine. In this case, because the government is restricting some rights of individuals to benefit the community, it bears the brunt of any consequences as well. Although the antivaccination movement may think the VICP supports their unsubstantiated beliefs, the truth is that the program actually promotes vaccinations.
“The intent of the Vaccine Act was multifold: compensate vaccine recipients and families alleged to have experienced a vaccine-related injury, stabilize the vaccine supply by reducing the number of claims brought against vaccine manufacturers, minimize the number of inappropriate claims…and decrease civil litigation by providing liability protection for vaccine manufacturers and administrators,” wrote the authors of a recent opinion article, published in JAMA.
Of the 3 billion doses of vaccines given between the years 2006 and 2016, there were only 5531 VICP cases brought forward to review, and of those, more than half were compensated. Most of the cases that are compensated come from a negotiated settlement and should not be viewed as evidence that the vaccine actually caused that particular injury.
“Overall, the VICP has been successful,” the authors wrote. “The United States presently has the highest immunization rates and the lowest rates of most vaccine-preventable diseases in the nation’s history.”
Meissner HC, Nair N, Plotkin SA. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Striking a balance between individual rights and community benefit. JAMA. 2019;321(4):343-344.