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A top federal health official recently acknowledged a difficult reality: vaccines may rarely trigger autism in susceptible children. Quantifying how often that happens is a challenge.
Clues can be found among vaccine brain injuries. While very rare, claims of vaccine-induced brain damage, such as encephalitis and seizure disorder, continue to build.
A small percentage of these cases ends up in federal vaccine court. According to the latest government figures, the number of children compensated by vaccine court for brain damage from one or more vaccines has now topped 2,000.
US Vaccine Court “Compensated” Brain Injury Claims
Seizure Disorder: 1,023
From: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Only two families who won court awards officially argued that “autism” was part of their child’s “sudden serious [vaccine-induced] brain illness.” The trickier question is how many brain damage cases involved or resulted in autism, but didn’t use that particular word. The government has decided not to track that number.
In fact, more than a handful families have won vaccine injury cases by focusing on general brain damage, avoiding specific mention of autism, which historically prompts a vigorous government challenge.
“I purposely avoided mentioning ‘autism’ in the claim,” said one attorney for a child diagnosed with brain damage and autism after her DTaP vaccination at 18 months. The lawsuit used the broader term, “encephalopathy.”
“Using (the child’s) autism diagnosis would have dragged out the lawsuit for years. The point wasn’t to try to win the autism debate, it was to get this family the compensation they need to take care of their injured child.” They won a significant award.
The confounding word play is evident when federal officials try to explain the dichotomy between children winning compensation for vaccine-induced brain damage, including autism; while federal officials often insist vaccines play no role in autism.
A statement from Health and Human Services (HHS) elaborates:
“Some of these compensated children who had sudden serious brain illness following vaccination go on to develop long term medical and developmental problems” including “autism.” Yet HHS adds: the agency “has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.”–HRSA of Health and Human Services
Only about one injury case for every million doses of vaccines is compensated in vaccine court. Adverse events occur more frequently, according to vaccine warning labels, but rarely end up in the little-known vaccine court.
Most experts believe vaccines are extremely safe and effective. Some studies indicate a relatively small group of children are at risk of serious side effects because of a range of genetic and environmental susceptibilities.
Under a special arrangement negotiated between vaccine makers and Congress, the U.S. government defends vaccine makers in court against victims claiming injury. The deadline for families to file a claim is a uniquely short time period: three years. Damages, when awarded, are not paid by vaccine makers, but by a fee assessed patients on each dose of vaccine.
On the plus side for vaccine victims, vaccine court offers a streamlined process that can help them avoid lengthy and costly court battles. Care for a surviving vaccine victim can top millions of dollars over a lifetime.
Vaccine court has awarded more than 3 billion dollars to children and adults injured by vaccines, or to the families of those killed.