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
DEC 19, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Urine Tests Sets Parents' Minds at Ease in Minutes After a Miscarriage Threat
DEC 19, 2020
Urine Tests Sets Parents' Minds at Ease in Minutes After a Miscarriage Threat
Researchers have developed a chip-based test that can determine pregnancy outcomes after the signs of a possible miscarr ...
DEC 20, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
A Repurposed Drug Can Treat a Genetic Disorder
DEC 20, 2020
A Repurposed Drug Can Treat a Genetic Disorder
Some researchers have sought to treat genetic diseases by correcting the mutation. But it may be possible to use another ...
DEC 27, 2020
Immunology
A Fatty Diet can be Fuel for Tumor Growth!
DEC 27, 2020
A Fatty Diet can be Fuel for Tumor Growth!
Obesity is a significant problem in our societies with increasing the risk for many diseases, including cancer. Can ...
DEC 28, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How an Herbal Compound May Fight Pancreatic Cancer
DEC 28, 2020
How an Herbal Compound May Fight Pancreatic Cancer
For centuries, Chinese practitioners have used herbs to treat all kinds of ailments. New research has shown that one of ...
DEC 29, 2020
Cardiology
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
DEC 29, 2020
Does Physical Activity Help Reduce the Risk of Aneurysms?
An active lifestyle is a proven way to prevent many types of cardiovascular diseases. The increased blood flow can preve ...
JAN 13, 2021
Plants & Animals
San Diego Zoo's Gorillas Positive for COVID-19
JAN 13, 2021
San Diego Zoo's Gorillas Positive for COVID-19
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive ...
Loading Comments...