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NATIONAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM RECOMMENDS

Executive Summary

NATIONAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM RECOMMENDS compensation for about one-third of the 33 claims reviewed to date, program administrator Truman McCasland said at a National Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting March 9. McCasland reported that 95 petitions for compensation of vaccine-related injuries have been filed, nearly double the November figure of 50. However, he noted that almost no petitions coming in have provided sufficient medical documentation for the panel to determine causation. Consequently, additional requests for medical information have delayed the review. Established under wide-ranging health legislation enacted in 1986, the program provides a no-fault system of compensation for individuals injured by government-mandated childhood vaccines. Those seeking compensation must file a petition with the U.S. Claims Court and a copy with HHS. The department acts as the respondent for all petitions and is represented by the Justice Department in U.S. Claims Court. McCasland reported that the Court has begun to hold initial hearings on the petitions; no awards have been granted to date. Program representatives act as the medical reviewing arm of the claims process. Their responsibilities include determining whether the alleged injury resulted from the named vaccine and making compensation recommendations to the Court. McCasland expressed concern over the adversarial relationship being exhibited in the process. "The way the system is currently set up is an adversarial kind of relationship between the U.S. government and the petitioner, which is a little peculiar when this was really established as a no-fault ]compensation system[ . . . we offer assistance, and there is a reluctance within the courts to accept assistance from us because they view us as the adversary." The panel also discussed the draft vaccination risk/benefit patient information forms published in the March 3 Federal Register. National Vaccine Program Coordinator Alan Hinman, MD, announced that a public hearing will be held in Atlanta April 17 to receive public comment on the proposed forms. The hearing is scheduled approximately mid-way through the 90-day period of comment, after which the forms will be revised. "It will be still some months before the forms are ready and in use," Hinman added, "probably somewhere in the early autumn." Vaccine providers will be required to furnish vaccine recipients with patient information forms for all inoculations covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: DTP (diptheria, tetanus and pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio (inactivated or oral).

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