JUN 18, 2019 2:13 PM PDT

Low Number of Vaccine Injury Claims Demonstrate Their Safety

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

To spread awareness of vaccine safety, New York Times reporters Pam Belluck and Reed Abelson wrote a comprehensive report about vaccine injury claim data. Using information from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, they discovered that for every one million doses of all immunizations in the United States from 2006-2017, there were about two claims of injury.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was established by federal law in 1988 by the United States Health Resources and Services Administration as a result of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. According to the NVICP’s website, the program’s objectives are to “ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.”

In addition to the 15 childhood vaccines, the program also covers the seasonal flu shot. According to Belluck and Abelson’s research, many of the program’s payments in recent years relate to flu shots involving adults. From 2006 to 2017, more than 1.5 billion doses of the flu shot were administered, and fewer than 3,500 injury claims were filed. Their research shows that many of those claims were shoulder injuries not related to the formulation of the vaccine.

Belluck and Abelson reported that of the billions of vaccine doses administered in the United States in the past 30 years, only about 21,000 official injury claims were filed. Of the 85% of these claims (approximately 18,000) that were processed so far, only 6,551 received compensation while the rest were dismissed. Most of the compensated claims (70%) were settlements in which sufficient evidence of injury could not be linked directly back to the vaccine. According to the NVICP website, settlements may be negotiated “[if] both parties decide to minimize the risk of loss through settlement; [to] minimize time and expense of litigating a case; or [because of] the desire to resolve a petition quickly.”

The NYT reporters use measles as an example to demonstrate vaccine safety. They report that the data they analyzed shows that “the likelihood of serious harm if a person contract measles in much greater than the chance of being injured from the measles vaccine.” According to their research, one to two of every 1,000 people who get the measles are likely to die from it, and injury claims were filed for only two out of every one million doses of the measles vaccine.

Skeptics point to the existence of the program and the number of payouts given as evidence that vaccines are dangerous. However, public health experts such as Dr. H. Cody Meissner—who also serves on the NVICP’s advisory committee—consider the data as evidence of vaccine safety. As he told the New York Times reporters, “the overwhelming number of vaccine injections are completely safe and not associated with any adverse events.”

Sources: New York Times, HRSA

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
AUG 23, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Conductor of the Circadian Rhythm is Identified
AUG 23, 2021
A Conductor of the Circadian Rhythm is Identified
The daily cycle of the planet is reflected in the biology of plants and animals. Even our cells are influenced by what&# ...
AUG 24, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Potential New, Less Costly Treatment for Pompe Disease
AUG 24, 2021
A Potential New, Less Costly Treatment for Pompe Disease
Some rare genetic disorders impair a critical molecule that has to be replaced, or serious disease or disability will oc ...
AUG 24, 2021
Microbiology
Sugars in Breast Milk May Help Prevent Infections in Newborns
AUG 24, 2021
Sugars in Breast Milk May Help Prevent Infections in Newborns
Research has indicated that babies get many benefits from breastmilk, even if they are only fed that way for a very shor ...
SEP 06, 2021
Cancer
A New Biomarker to Personalize Breast Cancer Therapy
SEP 06, 2021
A New Biomarker to Personalize Breast Cancer Therapy
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 280,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer ...
SEP 16, 2021
Cancer
Inspiring Hope during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
SEP 16, 2021
Inspiring Hope during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Childhood cancers, also known as pediatric cancers, are diagnosed in patients up to 14 years old.  Estimates for 20 ...
SEP 12, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
What Happens When Two Viruses Infect the Same Cell?
SEP 12, 2021
What Happens When Two Viruses Infect the Same Cell?
Pathgenic microbes that infect cells can affect each other. It's not unusual for people with viral respiratory infection ...
Loading Comments...