National Vaccine Laws Routinely Ignored by Health Officials and Doctors Regarding Patient Information on Vaccine Risks
In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), a carefully crafted piece of legislation that gave vaccine manufacturers their dream come true: blanket immunity from liability for injuries resulting from childhood vaccines. Throwing a bone to the safety concerns of consumers, the Act also mandated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (via the CDC) develop and distribute educational materials to inform vaccine recipients and/or their parents about a given vaccine’s risks and benefits. The NCVIA stipulated that doctors give out the appropriate materials—currently called Vaccine Information Statements (VISs)—“prior to every dose of specific vaccines,” including before “each dose of a multi-dose series.” Early on, government documentation emphasized the importance of giving VISs every time a vaccine is administered because “the health status of the child could have changed”—and as an example of changes in health status, the CDC cited children with “evolving neurological disorder[s].” By 2005, however, researchers were calling attention to doctors’ frequent failure to give out VISs, while also noting that the physicians who did distribute VISs “rarely initiated discussions regarding contraindications to immunizations.” To rectify the situation, the same authors carried out a CDC-coordinated evaluation in 2007 and proposed revisions “that would alert the physician to the need to use the VIS.” Neither the CDC nor state-level officials endorsed the proposed revisions. What appears to matter most to the CDC is that health care providers use “every opportunity to administer appropriate vaccines,” and informing patients about the potential risks to receiving vaccines is counter productive to that goal.