Supreme Court upholds National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which was recently brought up in a lower court to re-evaluate the validity of lawsuits brought by parents who claims their children were harmed by vaccinations, has been upheld.

“The NCVIA preempts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs seeking compensation for injury or death caused by a vaccine’s side effects,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion, according to Medscape.

The 6-2 ruling by the Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that protects vaccine makers from these lawsuits, which gave the process of plaintiffs suing these companies an even lower chance of success, Medscape reports.

“(This decision) leaves a regulatory vacuum in which no one ensures that vaccine manufacturers adequately take account of scientific and technological advancements when designing or distributing their products,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the dissenting opinion, according to Medscape.

The NCVIA includes a provision that all claims of harm brought up related to childhood vaccines must be heard by the Vaccine Court, which is a specially adjudicated program.

"You’re asking the public to get 14 different vaccines in the first few years of life and another two in adolescence, and 90 percent of people get immunized,” Dr. Paul A. Offit, the chief of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said, Medscape reports. “There are side effects to vaccines, some of which can be serious, so there has to be a compensation mechanism. But what they tend to do is overcompensate for claims, such as that hepatitis B vaccine causes multiple sclerosis, or that measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes fibromyalgia, for which there is no epidemiological evidence, but they choose to err on the side of caution.”