Parent Coalition for Vaccine-Injured Children Calls on Congress to Slow Down Compensation Bill

WASHINGTON -- Americans for Vaccine Safety and Accountability, a coalition of parents and healthcare professionals concerned about vaccine safety, vaccine injury compensation and informed consent issues, is calling on Congress to "do the right thing" and separate out reform of the child Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) from bioterrorism legislation. The coalition, headed by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), opposes the inclusion of VICP reform in Senate Bill 15, which targets funding for development of new bioterrorism vaccines and compensation for healthcare workers injured by smallpox vaccine.

"You can't fix overnight what has taken 15 years to get broken. Wedging reform of the federal vaccine injury compensation for children into a fast tracked bioterrorism bill is no way to get the job done right. Compensation for vaccine-injured children has nothing to do with bioterrorism. We need to take the time to create a workable long term solution to a problem that is not going to go away any time soon," said Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC co-founder and president.

Parents of vaccine-injured children protested when the Homeland Security Act passed last fall included a rider protecting drug companies from liability for vaccine injuries, particularly those companies making additives for vaccines. The additive thimerosal, a mercury preservative, is alleged to have caused autism in some children.

"Many parents have good reason to believe their children were harmed by mercury-containing vaccines. We can't leave these children out in the cold without any recourse to get help for their severely injured, often autistic, children. Any reform of the VICP has to take into account the shattered lives of these families and protect their right to seek federal compensation," said Lyn Redwood, president of SAFEMINDS, which advocates use of mercury-free vaccines and the elimination of mercury exposures in the environment.

The federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 as a non-fault alternative to civil litigation in order to protect the vaccine supply and restore public trust in the integrity of the mass vaccination system. Parent co-founders of NVIC worked with Congress, the American Academy of Pediatrics and vaccine manufacturers on the original legislation in the early 1980's. Since 1988, more than 8,000 children have applied for compensation and 1,794 have been given awards for a total of $1.4 billion. NVIC and other parent groups have been critical of how adversarial the system is and how difficult it is to get an award.

"Congress made a social contract with the parents of America in 1986," said Fisher. "And that contract was that if parents vaccinated their children, then the government would provide federal compensation if a child was injured. The no-fault, expedited, fair and generous compensation system that Congress envisioned has not lived up to its promise and we owe it to all children to do it right this time around."

Member organizations of Americans for Vaccine Safety and Accountability include NVIC, Autism Society of America, Lyme Disease Foundation, Mothering Magazine, New Hampshire Citizens for Health Freedom, Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education (PROVE), Unlocking Autism and World Chiropractic Alliance. The Coalition was founded to secure just compensation for the vaccine injured; the inclusion of informed consent protections in vaccine policy and law; and funding of basic science research into adverse responses to vaccines.

Source: National Vaccine Information Center