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May 11, 2011

Vaccine Liability in the Supreme CourtForging a Social Compact

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Systems Administration, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies (Mr Kraemer) and O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University (Messrs Kraemer and Gostin), Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2011;305(18):1900-1901. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.615

On February 22, 2011, the US Supreme Court decided Bruesewitz v Wyeth LLC,1 holding that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (NCVIA) preempts all design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers in which the plaintiff seeks compensation for injury or death caused by a vaccine's adverse effects. The public health implications are profound because Congress designed the NCVIA to safeguard a social compact—ensuring access to vaccines by preventing the uncertainty of litigation, while also ensuring vaccine safety and effectiveness.

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