Vaccines on trial

28 April 2017  Vol 356, Issue 6336

Vaccines on trial
By Meredith Wadman
Science28 Apr 2017 : 370-373 Full Access
The U.S. vaccine court weighs real versus bogus risks.
Leah Durant may be unique among vaccine injury lawyers: She was moved to begin representing people hurt by vaccines after sustaining her own painful shoulder injury, the result of a tetanus injection administered too high on her arm. Durant’s Washington, D.C., practice at what is popularly known at the vaccine court provides a window into rare but real—as opposed to bogus—vaccine risks. Among these, shoulder injuries like Durant’s are easily the most common brought to the court by petitioners. Others include nerve-damaging autoimmune reactions like Guillain-Barré syndrome and brachial neuritis; and a multisystem allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. The 30-year-old vaccine court, part of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, provides a no-fault route to compensation for those hurt by real vaccine injuries—with the costs of their lawyers picked up by the government.