Products liability losses by vaccine manufacturers have driven the cost of
vaccines beyond the reach of indigent patients and many health departments.
In an effort to control these losses, Congress passed the Vaccine Injury
Compensation Act to compensate persons injured by vaccines (see Appendix
12–A). This compensation program is funded by a combination of tax revenues
on vaccine sales and general tax revenues. This law has two major flaws. One
is that the tax on vaccine sales is very high, amounting to several dollars a
dose for some common vaccines. The more important is that it is not an
exclusive remedy. Although the plaintiff is required to file a claim for review
under the act, the plaintiff may reject the award offered under the act and sue
the vaccine manufacturer. This is most likely to happen in cases involving brain-
injured children. These are the cases that are sympathetic to jurors and thus
are most likely to result in huge damage awards. Allowing these plaintiffs to
opt out of the compensation system leaves further increases to vaccine costs.