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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter 1992


Update on Vaccine Related Issues

Compensation Awards Continue

Despite calls for a moratorium on awards being paid in the federal compensation system for vaccine injuries and deaths which occurred before 1988, awards continue to be made by the U.S. Claims Court. Of the 4,236 petitions which have been filed with the Court, 611 have been fully processed. Of these, 230 have been awarded compensation, 305 dismissed and 76 were denied compensation.

To date, only 2,478 of the 4,236 petitions filed have been examined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to deteermine the type of claim submitted. The U.S. Claims Court anticipates they will need an additional two years to process all claims.

Of the 2,478 petitions which have been examined by DHHS, 1,719 are for deaths and injuries following DPTI polio vaccination; 440 following MMR vaccination; 277 following polio vaccination and 42 following other vaccinations. Of the 230 awards, 51 were for deaths and 42 out of the 51 deaths were initially misclassified as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Awards have ranged from $48,000 to $2.9 million.

The U.S. Claims Court continued to accept petitions after the January 31, 1991 deadline for vaccine injuries and deaths which occurred before October 1988. However, these petitions are ultimately being dismissed by the Court because they were late. Whether or not these petitions will be reconsidered in the future will depend upon examination of the deadline issue by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reprinted with permission from National Vaccine Information Center, Dissatisfied Parents Together (NVIUDPT), 128 Branch Rd, Vienna VA 22180 (703/938-DPT3).

Polio Vaccine Options

Much has been reported lately about the potential danger of vaccines. If your family and friends ask you, as a polio survivor, about the polio vaccine options, the following organization can provide information.

The National Vaccine Information Center is a national, non-profit educational organization representing parents and healthcare professionals concerned about childhood diseases and vaccines, especially whooping cough (pertussis) and the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccine. The NVIC is dedicated to: (1) informing the public about childhood diseases and vaccines in order to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths; (2) assisting those who have suffered severe reactions to vaccinations; (3) representing the vaccine consumer by monitoring vaccine research and development, vaccine policymaking, and vaccine-related federal and state legislation; (4) working to obtain the right of parents to choose which vaccines their children will receive; and (5) promoting the development of safer and more effective vaccines. The NVIC is operated with private donations and does not receive federal or corporate funds. The Center publishes a newsletter and other pertinent booklets.

Other sources for related information are Kathryn Todd, R.N., RR #2, Box 31, Industry, PA 15052 and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Nov. 15, 1991 Nol. 40/No. RR-12) "Update on Adult Immunization: Recomrnendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP). "This volume on pages 29-31, discusses both live OPV (oral polio vaccine) and eIPV (enhanced inactivated polio vaccine) as they relate to adult immunization. In general" a primary vaccine series need not be given to adults living in the United States who have not had a primary series as children. However, for adults who have not had a primary series and who are at greater risk of exposure than the general population to wild polioviruses because of foreign travel or health occupation, eIPV is preferred because the risk of OPV-associated paralysis is slightly higher among adults than among children. Poliovirus vaccine is not routinely recommended for persons older than high school age (greater than 18 years old)" To obtain a copy, send $3.00 to Massachusetts Medical Society, P.O. Box 9120, Waltham MA 02254-9120 USA.

Polio Vaccine Ruling Marc S. Moller, Esq., 100 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017-5590 and Stanley P. Kops, Esq., 210 W. Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106, shared with the International Polio Network information on a September 1991 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz. The essence of the decision was that the government is liable for injuries caused over several decades by oral polio vaccine.

The case asserted that the Federal Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) – now known as the Office of Biologics Research and Review – violated its own regulatory standards by not following its own neurovirulence standards and also by allowing attenuated (weakened) vaccine viruses to be put through more tissue cultures than the regulations allowed during manufacture. The Government is appealing the ruling.

Vaccination Rates Improve Worldwide, Uncertain in United States

Eighty percent of the world's children younger than one year old have been vaccinated against six common – and sometimes deadly – childhood diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced. Though the statistic masks wide differences in vaccination rates between the indus- trialized and developing worlds, it represents a major advance in public health. Vaccination now prevents the deaths of about 3.2 million children per year, according to WHO estimates. Started in 1974, Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) – a worldwide campaign – vaccinates infants against measles, polio, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus. In most non- industrialized countries, children also receive a vaccine against tuberculosis.

The United States is the only country in the world that has no official figures on immunization rates of one or two-year-old infants, because it stopped counting in 1985. The official explanation was that data collection was costly and the methodology was suspect, but critics contended that the Reagan administration was embarrassed by the contrast between improving immunization rates throughout the Third World and five consecutive years of decline in the United States. However, in the wake of the 1990 measles epidemic – nearly 28,000 cases were reported, more than 18 times the number reported in 1983 – the government has begun to collect immunization data again.

SOURCE: OT week/November 7, 1991.

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