NVIC Cites "Betrayal" of Consumers by U.S. Supreme Court Decision Giving Total Liability Shield to Big Pharma

Posted: 2/25/2011 7:07:39 AM | with 17 comments

February 23, 2011 08:03 AM Eastern Time  WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), whose co-founders worked with Congress on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL-99-660), is calling yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision giving drug companies total liability protection for injuries and deaths caused by government mandated vaccines a “betrayal” of the American consumer.

In a 6-2 decision, the Court majority voted to reject substantial evidence in the Act’s legislative history that the 99th Congress fully intended to protect an American’s right to sue a pharmaceutical corporation for injuries that could have been prevented if the company had elected to make a safer vaccine.

NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher, said “Parents of vaccine injured children, who worked in good faith with Congress in the early 1980’s on the 1986 law, have been betrayed by six American judges, who ignored congressional intent and threw victims of vaccine injury under the bus in order to give complete liability protection to a wealthy industry with a long history of hiding their products’ risks. They have removed the safety net we were promised. If we had known this day would come, we would have vigorously opposed any federal legislation that limited civil liability for drug corporations now making substantial profits from vaccines mandated by government.”

Hannah Bruesewitz was brain injured by DPT vaccine as a child but she was denied compensation by the U.S. Court of Claims, which administers the federal vaccine injury compensation program created by the 1986 Act that has turned away two out of three plaintiffs. Her attorneys then sued in civil court, providing evidence that Wyeth-Lederle had the technology to produce a less reactive, purified pertussis vaccine but declined to do so.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has removed all financial incentive for multi-national pharmaceutical corporations, which enjoy a $20 billion dollar business, to make vaccines as safe as they can be,” said Fisher. “This is a sad day for all Americans forced by law to use dozens of doses of vaccines or be barred from school or health insurance or employment. The only leverage left to American consumers to ensure that vaccines with the fewest health risks are produced is to oppose vaccine mandates and work to defend vaccine exemptions in all public health laws.”

The National Vaccine Information Center is a non-profit charity founded in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education. NVIC co-founders were responsible for inclusion of vaccine safety and research provisions in the 1986 Act, including theVaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, and for ensuring that the Act protected the right of those injured by vaccines to access the civil court system if they were turned down for compensation or offered too little to meet their lifetime medical care needs.

NVIC has been critical of the failure of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to implement the 1986 law in accordance with legislative language, history and congressional intent. For more information, go to www.NVIC.org.


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Second Annual Valentines for Victoria Gala Raises Over $120,000 for Vaccine Safety and Informed Consent Protection Standards

Posted: 2/25/2011 7:03:51 AM | with 0 comments

Tulsa, OK, Wednesday, February 24th – Valentines for Victoria co-founders Danny and Dr. StephanieChristner hosted the 2nd annual Valentines for Victoria Gala benefiting the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). The event was created in remembrance of Victoria Christner, who died after reactions to childhood vaccines, to initiate dialogue and awareness about the need for vaccine safety and informed consent protections in public health policies. 

Guests dined at the Southern Hills Country Club Saturday, February 19th and danced the night away to the musical talents of Dave and the Wavetones. The evening’s festivities included a heads and tails event, wine and chocolate basket auction, and live auction with Dale Chupp, a local auctioneer. Guests were also highly entertained by the Three Waiters performance throughout dinner.  Fox News personality, Chera Kimiko emceed the event, which included guest speaker Dr. Bob Sears presenting on vaccine safety and informed consent issues often seen in pediatric practices. 

Over 200 people attended the sit down dinner and dance event and had opportunities to win auction prizes that included a private jet and luxury golf vacation, private dining experience at Tulsa’s famous Polo Grill, a luxurious Jamaican villa retreat getaway, and suite tickets to Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour.

The event raised over $120,000 which will be directed to NVIC’s consumer advocacy efforts to secure strong protections in state vaccine laws; promote vaccine safety research; expand public education programs; and continue monitoring and publication of independent analysis of vaccine development, regulation, policymaking and legislation

NVIC is the nation’s oldest and leading charitable nonprofit vaccine safety and informed consent advocacy organization. Founded in 1982, NVIC’s mission is to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and protect the informed consent ethic. For more information about NVIC visit www.NVIC.org.

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WA State Vaccine Law Threatens Exemptions & Violates Privacy

Posted: 2/13/2011 10:37:10 AM | with 29 comments

by Barbara Loe Fisher

If you are a resident of Washington state, you should know that there is a bill quietly sailing through your state legislature that violates your privacy and threatens your right to make informed, voluntary decisions about vaccination. House Bill 1015 1 and Senate Bill 5005 also discriminates against parents by failing to give them equal protection under the federal National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL 99-660). 2

The proposed new law will legally require doctors and nurses to personally sign off on all religious or personal belief exemptions to vaccination filed with the state. Parents seeking non-medical exemptions will be required to include a signature from a vaccine provider on the exemption form stating that they have been given vaccine benefit and risk information. 3 Currently Washington state mandatory vaccination laws 4 only require signatures from medical personnel when medical exemptions are filed.

If this bill becomes law, it will put doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in the legal position of acting as inquisitors of religious beliefs held by fellow citizens, which is an invasion of privacy and a de facto violation of First Amendment rights. 5 Americans associated with the medical profession will have the power to sit in judgment of, or interfere with, the free exercise of religious, spiritual or conscientious beliefs of other Americans. It will also make it easier for doctors to punish parents making selective vaccine choices by denying their children medical care, which is the official policy of many U.S. pediatricians. 6

The ethical principle of informed consent 7 to medical risk taking means that you, as an individual or the legal guardian of an individual, have the human right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and make a voluntary decision without being harassed or coerced by anyone. 8 The informed consent principle protects individuals in every society from exploitation by those in positions of power in medicine, government and industry. 9, 10, 11

The proposed Washington state bill makes it easier for doctors and other medical personnel to violate an individual’s informed consent rights and discriminate against those filing vaccine exemptions, who may hold different beliefs and values. 12, 13, 14, 15 Informed consent is especially important when it comes to vaccination because doctors and nurses cannot predict ahead of time who will be injured by vaccines. More than $2 billion dollars has been awarded by the U.S. Court of Claims 16 to compensate vaccine victims, mostly children, whose doctors did not know they would suffer brain inflammation, immune dysregulation and become permanently disabled or even die after vaccination. 17, 18, 19

Co-sponsors of the new Washington state vaccine law do not acknowledge in the bill that there is already a federal law in place since 1986, 20, 21 which legally requires doctors, nurses and all vaccine providers to: 

  1. Give parents vaccine benefit and risk information before vaccination takes place;
  2. Record serious health problems, including hospitalizations, injuries and deaths, after vaccination in the child’s permanent medical records;
  3. Report serious health problems after vaccination 22 to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS); 23 and
  4. Keep a permanent record of all vaccines given, including the manufacturer’s name and lot number.

Unfortunately, today most vaccine providers do not obey these important federal law requirements. So if the goal of the new law is to educate parents about vaccination, it should simply state that all vaccine providers are legally required to give every parent Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) produced by the Centers for Disease Control, 24 which also contain information about reporting vaccine reactions and the federal vaccine injury compensation program.

If you are a Washington State resident and do not want to lose your right to file a religious or personal belief exemption to vaccination without getting the signature of a doctor or nurse, you need take action TODAY.

Sign up for NVIC's Advocacy Portal and learn how to take action and make your voice heard. No matter what state you live in, please join forces now with the oldest, largest, and most experienced vaccine safety and informed consent organization, the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center, 25, 26 and fight for your freedom to make voluntary vaccine choices in America.

If it can happen in Washington state, it can happen in your state. Defend your informed consent rights.

Please forward the public service announcement linked to the end of this commentary to everyone you know about how to join NVIC’s Advocacy Portal.

It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.

Click here to watch NVIC’s Advocacy Portal Public Service Announcement.



1 Washington State Legislature. House Bill 1015 and Senate Bill

2The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986  (PL 99-660). Subpart C - Assuring a Safer Childhood Vaccination Program in the United States (300 aa 25-28): Recording and reporting of information; vaccine information; mandate for safer childhood vaccines; manufacturer recordkeeping and reporting.

3 Washington State House of Representatives, Office of Program Research. Bill Analysis (HB1015) Health Care & Wellness Committee. January 11, 2011.

4 Washington State Vaccine Requirements

5 United States Constitution, First Amendment.

6 Flanagan-Klygis EA, Sharp L, Frader JE. Dismissing the Family Who Refuses Vaccines. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2005; 159:929-934

7 University of Washington School of Medicine. Ethics in Medicine: Informed Consent.

8 Doyal L. Good clinical practice and informed consent are inseparable. Heart 2002; 87(2): 103-105.

9 Encyclopedia of Virginia. Buck v. Bell (1927).

10 Seidelman WE. Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science. British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 1463-7.

11 Annas GJ. Globalization of Clinical Trials and Informed Consent. N Eng J Med 2009; 360:2050-2053.

12 ACLU. 2009. NYCLU Urges Public Education and Voluntary Vaccine for H1N1 Flu, Warns Vaccine Mandate Violates Privacy Rights. Testimony by Donna Lieberman

13 Offit, P.  Mandating Influenza Vaccine: One Hospital’s Experience. Medscape 2010.

14 Sullivan PL. 2010. Influenza Vaccination in HealthCare Workers: Should It Be Mandatory? Journal of Issues in Nursing. 

15 Evans G, Bostrom A, Johnston RB, Fisher BL, Stoto MA, editors. Risk Communication and Vaccination: Summary of a Workshop. Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press 1997.

16 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report (January 3, 2011).

17 Waldenbuerg WS, Wallace SE. When Science is Silent: Examining Compensation of Vaccine-Related Injuries When Scientific Evidence of Causation is Inconclusive. Wake Forest Law Review 2007; 42: 303-331.

18 Poling J, Poling T. Letters: Vaccines, Autism and Our Daughter, Hannah. New York Times April 15, 2008.

19 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Vaccine Injury Table.

20 See Reference #1

21 National Vaccine Information Center. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

22 MedAlerts.org: Online Access to the U.S. Government’s VAERS Data

23 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

24 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control: Vaccine Information Statements

25 National Vaccine Information Center. About Us.

26 In the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines and Lederle Laboratories. Petition of Amici Curiae National Vaccine Information Center, it’s co-founders and 11 other organizations in support of Petitioners.

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Legislative Change is Possible with the NVIC Advocacy Portal

Posted: 2/1/2011 11:10:59 PM | with 1 comments

by Dawn Richardson, NVIC Director of Advocacy

The recent launch of our NVIC Advocacy Portal in November 2010 was a huge success.  Now that state legislative sessions are actively underway throughout the county, there has never been a more important time for all of our supporters to be registered as NVIC Advocacy Team Members.  Please sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal today!

Every Voice Counts

In addition to receiving timely alerts for your state letting you know how you can help make a difference on important legislation and policy to protect your rights and expand vaccine exemptions, you will be able to directly connect to your elected state legislators to let them know what you think about these issues which are so important to you and your family!
If you are in any of the states listed below, we could use your support contacting your legislators.  All of the pertinent information, including an automatic linking to your own personal state legislators, is displayed on your state team page on the NVIC Advocacy Portal.  If you know anybody in the states listed below, please let them know that we need their help to make a difference with these bills. In order to view the bill information below, you will need to be registered and logged in to the NVIC Advocacy Portal.


Expanding Vaccine Exemptions
Congratulations to our NVIC Advocacy Team Directors and members in Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York!  The efforts of all four groups have paid off as there are bills now filed in these states to expand current vaccine exemption laws to add a conscientious or philosophical exemption.  Both New Hampshire and New Jersey need your help quickly because they have public hearings on February 10th! 

State Bill Number Position Title
NH HB416 Support Conscientious Belief Exemption
NY S1331 SUPPORT Bill to Add Philosophical Exemption to Vaccination
KS HB 2094 SUPPORT A Bill for a Conscientious Exemption to
State-Mandated Immunizations
NJ A2450 SUPPORT Conscientious Exemption to Mandatory Immunization

Restricting Vaccine Exemptions

New Jersey needs our help to get the word out about a proposed resolution that would further restrict the use of the religious exemption there.  This is especially important for New Jersey families since there is no conscientious exemption to vaccination law in New Jersey and parents’ exemption options in New Jersey are currently limited to just medical and religious exemptions.

State Bill Number Position Title
NJ ACR157 OPPOSE Resolution to roll back the religious exemption

Vaccine Mandates

Virginia’s House recently passed a bill to repeal the HPV mandate and we need your help to pass it in the Senate.  In the meantime, we need your help contacting legislators to oppose proposed meningococcal vaccine mandates in New York and Wyoming and a highly controversial HPV vaccine mandate for boys and girls in New York.

State Bill Number Position Title
NY A699 OPPOSE Bill to Require HPV Vaccine for all children
born after 1/1/96
NY A608 OPPOSE Bill to require Meningococcal Vaccination
for 7th graders and College Students
WY SF104 OPPOSE Meningitis Vaccine Mandate
VA HB 1419 SUPPORT Repeal HPV Vaccine Mandate

Vaccine Tracking

In 1997, parents in Texas were successful requesting legislators make the vaccine tracking registry one that required parental consent before the health department could include a child.  This protected parents who didn’t want the state intruding on their vaccination decisions. Now a couple of legislators in Texas think the state should just be able to take your child’s vaccination history without your permission and use it to try to change your behavior.  Instead of opt-in, they want opt-out with data retention.  No thanks!  Let’s stop this power and information grab in Texas.

State Bill Number Position Title
TX SB 56 / HB 574 OPPOSE Remove Consent for Inclusion in Vaccine
Tracking System

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College Bound - Navigating Vaccine Choices

Posted: 2/1/2011 12:59:37 PM | with 9 comments

Theresa WranghamBy Theresa Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director

Recently, I responded to one of our reader’s vaccination choice concerns regarding college bound young adults and many of these young adults will soon be deciding which college to attend in the fall. I have these concerns myself now, as my youngest is also off to college this year. As a parent, I have learned that the informed consent movement that NVIC founded and the values we in turn have taken into our home really transfer to our college bound daughter. It is not easy to step aside, but as we do, we are empowering our daughter to ask the right questions as she decides which college to attend.

This article will address concerns held by families and young adults who are college bound and choose to alternatively vaccinate, or do not vaccinate at all. As they enter college, they will face pressure to receive vaccines for meningitis, HPV, and influenza, among others. Whatever decisions our sons and daughters make in this respect, make no mistake - it is their decision to make and defend.

Although parents are no longer directly involved with these healthcare decisions, parents can help their sons and daughters find accurate information and resources regarding:

  1. the risks of the vaccine they are being asked by the college to receive;
  2. the risks of the disease for which they are considering vaccination;
  3. and their rights to informed consent in the vaccine decision-making process.

For reliable facts helpful in evaluating the risks discussed in the first two points above, our webpage on diseases and vaccines is an excellent resource and should be recommended to prospective college students. When a decision is made to decline a vaccine, it is crucial for the incoming college student to understand what the legal and policy requirements are in order for them to be able to continue to be enrolled and meet their program requirements.

College Vaccination – What is Required?

Understanding college vaccination policies and state exemption laws are a critical part of the information gathering process. Having taken calls from parents of students suspended from attending college until their vaccinations are up to date, we are not leaving admission to our daughter’s dream college to chance. We have personally found it helpful to proactively:  

  1. ask the admissions officer for the school’s vaccination policy in writing (should be on the institution’s letterhead);
  2. and research the state’s exemption laws when considering colleges.

In general, college vaccination policies must comply with the legal exemptions to vaccination outlined in each state's public health laws. Unforeseen trouble may come up later if the student is going into a health profession that requires clinical practice during their course of study. In that instance, the facility providing the clinical experience necessary for graduation requirements could have vaccination requirements for students, who are in direct contact with patients. It is better to have this information in advance. There are times when exceptions are made for medical contraindications and/or proof of existing antibodies, but these exceptions are on a case-by-case basis and policies governing vaccination could change before graduation. 

Helpful Tips for Gathering Information

Below are guidelines to assist families in gathering information that empowers their college bound student’s understanding of the vaccination landscape in their state. Much of the information below can be found on our website under FAQs and although NVIC continually updates our website, state laws and rules change frequently and the website content may not reflect all recent changes to laws.  

  • Research the state exemption laws for colleges under consideration. Le gal requirements of vaccination laws differ state to state. Recognized legal exemptions are medical, religious and conscientious, philosophical or personal belief exemptions. Wording and scope of exemptions can differ from state to state, so do your homework!
  • State laws that govern exemptions sometimes don’t extend to private schools, which can institute any vaccine requirements they deem appropriate. Exemptions differ state to state and are dependent on the laws of each state.
  • Be aware of the difference between a legal requirement and a recommendation. For example, while vaccine policymakers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have included the meningitis vaccine in their recommendations for first year college students living in dormitories, the state of Alaska requires only that college students receive information on the disease, vaccine and their increased risk of contracting meningitis if living in student housing. In this example the student must either agree to be vaccinated for meningitis, or sign a waiver verifying that they received the information and have waived vaccination.
  • Some states allow exemption from vaccination, or revaccination, if there is proof of existing antibodies. These antibodies can sometimes be determined by a private laboratory with a blood test to check titers. Titer tests are not available for all diseases for which a vaccine is available and acceptance of titer test results vary state to state. Again, check with the public health laws governing the state in question to determine what titer tests are acceptable.
  • Stay up-to-date on state exemptions and vaccination issues in the state of attendance, as requirements can change! NVIC maintains a webpage updated with state-by-state exemption information. NVIC has also recently launched its State Advocacy Portal and individuals can sign up to receive free eNewsletters on vaccine policy and law changes underway in their state, as well as tips for protecting your legal right to obtain an exemption to vaccination.

There are three types of vaccination exemptions:

  • Philosophical Exemption: There are 18 states which allow exemption to vaccination based on philosophical, personal or conscientiously held beliefs. In many of these states, individuals must object to all vaccines, not just a particular vaccine in order to use the philosophical, conscientious or personal belief exemption.  This type of exemption is being threatened in some state legislatures due to pressure from government health officials, drug company lobbyists and medical organizations to revoke this exemption.
  • Religious Exemption: All states except Mississippi and West Virginia allow for a religious exemption to vaccination. The religious exemption is intended for people who hold a sincere religious belief opposing vaccination but those beliefs can be personally held and church membership or adherence to an organized religion is not required. However, you should be able to articulate in your own words why your sincerely held religious or spiritual beliefs do not allow you to vaccinate yourself or your child with one or more vaccines. Sometimes obtaining a letter from your pastor or spiritual advisor attesting to the sincerity of your religious beliefs about vaccination is helpful, as well. Some religious exemptions are broadly defined and similar to philosophical or conscientious belief exemptions.
  • Medical Exemptions: All 50 states allow medical exemption to vaccination. Proof of medical exemption must take the form of a signed statement by a medical doctor, or doctor of osteopathy that the administering of one or more vaccines would be detrimental to the health of an individual. Some states will accept a private physician's written exemption without question. Other states allow the state health department to review the doctor's exemption and revoke it if health department officials do not think the exemption is justified.

My advice to our readers is to take the time to research the vaccination laws of the state in question, the specific policies of the college and program being considered and empower your student with information well in advance of selecting the college of their dreams and beginning their journey into adulthood.

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