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Why pass the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act?

Why would US lawmakers pass an act to eliminate the financial liability of vaccine producers if vaccines are safe?


In 1986, the US Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The legislation provided the legal acknowledgement that vaccines occasionally can, and do, cause lasting injuries and death. As such, the act created a federal compensation plan for the victims of vaccines.

The Argument

Why would a government pass an act like the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act if it was confident that vaccines are safe? In 2011, a Supreme Court decision in the case of Bruesewitz vs Wyeth also concluded that vaccines were “unavoidably unsafe”. In the decision, the court effectively removed any liability from vaccine manufacturers who made unsafe products.[1] Both of these incidents demonstrate that in the eyes of the law, vaccines are inherently unsafe. The Supreme Court is also known for having an exceptionally high burden of proof. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that vaccines are, in fact, “unavoidably unsafe”, as the court concluded.

Counter arguments

Lawmakers did not pass the bill because they believed vaccines were dangerous. It was passed to ensure that there was a constant supply of vaccines available. In the 1970s and 1980s, the notion that vaccines could cause permanent brain injury was gaining traction. There was no scientific evidence to demonstrate a causal link between the two (nor has there been since), but well-publicised anecdotal evidence prompted a slew of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. With the lawsuits hanging over their profits, many vaccine manufacturers opted to cease production of common vaccinations in the early 1980s and by 1985, it was becoming difficult for vaccine manufacturers to secure liability insurance. As the threat of a vaccine shortage drew near, and prices for common vaccines skyrocketed, Congress stepped in and passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. This federal no-fault system allowed manufacturers to secure liability insurance once more and begin producing vaccinations once more.


[P1] Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [P2] The act absolved vaccine manufacturers of liability in the event their product produced adverse health effects. [P3] Therefore, Congress clearly believed vaccines were unsafe. [P4] Therefore, vaccines were probably unsafe.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] Congress passed the bill because the country needed more vaccines, not because they thought it was unsafe




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This page was last edited on Friday, 28 Jun 2019 at 18:48 UTC