As the Children’s Health Defense eBook, Conflicts of Interest Undermine Children’s Health, tries to make clear, the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986 was a watershed event that emboldened vaccine manufacturers and their public- and private-sector accomplices—notably the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—to systematically hide the serious damage caused by vaccines. In addition to making a mockery of pre-licensing safety testing and post-marketing surveillance, these entities have regularly manipulated (or destroyed) data to exaggerate both the benefits and effectiveness of vaccination. Manufacturers have also used their money and power to subordinate the mainstream media, medical journals and front groups, making it possible to publish and broadcast deceptive studies that whitewash questions inconvenient to the financial bottom line.
From multiple standpoints—not least of which is children’s dismal state of health—the status quo is untenable. Three of the most urgent steps to be taken include repealing the NCVIA, eliminating vaccine mandates (making both childhood and adult vaccination voluntary) and addressing conflicts of interest by establishing a fully transparent and independent vaccine safety commission.
Repeal the NCVIA
The NCVIA has been an unmitigated disaster. As New York University law professor Mary Holland has written, the Act’s passage has allowed the government and vaccine manufacturers to ride roughshod over three important legal protections:
- Free and informed consent to an invasive medical procedure
- Accurate and complete information about vaccine ingredients and possible side effects
- The right to sue manufacturers and medical practitioners directly in the event of injury.
According to Holland, the absence of these legal protections for vaccination is “striking” compared to “almost all other medical interventions.”
The legal protections are interrelated. For example, an individual cannot exercise truly informed consent unless he or she has access to full and unbiased information. Recognizing this, one provision of the NCVIA was a mandate for the CDC to develop (and health care providers to distribute) patient education materials about vaccine risks and benefits. However, not only has the CDC repeatedly dumbed down the materials in a variety of ways, but research suggests that many doctors do not comply with the legal requirement to hand out (much less discuss) them. Instead, providers and the media continue to blandly assure the public that vaccine injuries are a “one in a million” event, never mentioning that 99% of vaccine injuries go unreported. Under the circumstances, no meaningful assessment of vaccine risks is possible.
Research shows that by eliminating consumers’ ability to sue, the NCVIA has had a tangibly negative effect on vaccine safety. After an extensive analysis of nationwide and state-level U.S. data, a researcher reported in 2017 that vaccines licensed after NCVIA’s passage were associated with “a significantly higher incidence of adverse events” compared to vaccines licensed prior to the law’s passage. The researcher concluded that “product safety deteriorates when consumers are no longer able to sue manufacturers.” Repealing the NCVIA and reinstating product liability would not solve all of the ethical problems that permeate the pharmaceutical industry’s business culture, but it could curtail the “free-for-all” environment that has prevailed since 1986 and might incentivize manufacturers to treat vaccines in the same way as drugs and put safety on somewhat of a more even footing with profits….