Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Supreme Injustice

Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down a decision denying parents the right to go outside the government's "vaccine court" and sue drug makers for vaccine injuries in state court.

The decision, called "a victory for vaccine makers such as Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline", is a defeat for the many parents who placed their trust in the nation's vaccine program.

The Washington Post reported that dissenting Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg expressed concern that confining parents to vaccine court would lessen the incentives for vaccine manufacturers to monitor and improve the vaccines they produce.

The Post article then turned it's focus to the prevailing side, stating:
The majority said that Congress found such a system necessary to ensure that vaccines remain readily available...
Using that rational we could excuse exploding gas tanks because of the need to keep American car manufactures in business and American workers employed.

The judges in the majority expressed their feeling that:
...federal regulators are in the best position to decide whether vaccines are safe and properly designed.
Which could have just as easily been worded:
Those whose mission it is to ensure that as many men, women and children are vaccinated with as many, and as much vaccine as can possibly be absorbed, are in the best position to decide whether vaccines are safe and properly designed.
Justice Antonin Scalia, reflecting the judges' blind faith in "science" wrote:
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 "reflects a sensible choice to leave complex epidemiological judgments about vaccine design to the FDA and the National Vaccine Program rather than juries"
Juries? Preposterous! How could they decide? After all they're just made up of people and people get real confused when they encounter "science" and hear mystifying words such as epidemiology.

Justice Scalia failed to mention how juries can be relied on to decide criminal cases involving forensic evidence (a field that incorporates a number of scientific principles) but that's another issue altogether.

The decision left the American Association of Vaccination Pediatrics giddy. A spokesman for the group gushed:
"Today's Supreme Court decision protects children by strengthening our national immunization system and ensuring that vaccines will continue to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in this country,
But what is today a cause for celebration within the halls of medicine may, in time, be seen as a Pyrrhic victory. After all, this decision might wake parents up to the fact that when it comes to recovering vaccine-related damages, the deck is stacked against them: yet one more reason to question the wisdom of vaccination.

I was disappointed though not surprised by the ruling. It reaffirms my belief that vaccines live in their own special world of protections and perceptions. Medical over treatment is rampant yet to even consider that vaccination can be over done makes one irrational. If you decide a vaccine is a product you don't want, you're anti vaccine (If you don't buy a flat screen are you anti flat screen?) and when clear conflicts of interest are clearly shown to the very foundation of vaccination were told conflicts don't matter.

Not surprisingly, this ruling has create outrage among many parents. As a result a protest is being planned for 
this Thursday, February 24 at 11:30 am at Microsoft's NYC headquarters at 1290 Avenue of the Americas (52nd Street and Sixth Ave, southeast corner).

One final note. This post does not dispute the fact that the tort system is in need of reform. It is. It's just unfortunate that, while everyone else is subject to the current system, vaccines, occupying their own special place in the universe, are given shelter in the warm and cozy bosom of Vaccine Court, and granted protections far beyond what any general reform could ever deliver.


  1. Excellent post, as always. The decision demonstrates "The Power of Fear" and how it can rule our lives both legally and psychologically( Perhaps it is time steel ourselves against fear-mongering and to even question the goals of vaccination, i.e., the elimination of disease. Can and Should We Try and Eliminate Disease? (Part 1 – Can we? By Sandy Gottstein

  2. Thanks Sandy, and thanks for the links. Your point about waning immunity is now particularly relevant considering with new laws and recommendations we're up to seven pertussis shots with no end in sight

  3. How true, Robert. It's all so chilling.

  4. I love your statement starting with "Those whose mission.." So true! The statements by doctors supporting the courts decision were completely opposite to my understanding of why we vaccinate. My understanding is that if we push max vaccinations we can in turn reduce the world population. Maybe we are temporarily saving some of them from from infectious diseases... maybe not. I'm not convinced the vaccines are actually doing no harm... not even close. But one thing is for sure, anytime man has tried to fix a natural design... something worse follows. Always there is a domino effect. In everything. We have never left anything better than what we found it. Never. Such a sad truth.

  5. I agree. It was the ecologist Garrett Hardin who said, in regards to ecological systems "you can’t do just one thing" That's already being proven true with the massive over use of antibiotics. Are vaccines any different? That's why I believe a serious threat is warranted before one resorts to bioagents such as vaccines. And the mumps isn't a serious threat