Are there any downsides to vaccines?

Smallpox would have killed approximately 5 million people worldwide each and every year.  Vaccines, however, have eradicated that disease.  Smallpox is no longer found wild anywhere in the world because of its vaccine. 


In the United States, we have also eliminated yellow fever, polio, measles, and diphtheria.  These are devastating, deadly diseases that - due to vaccines - have been eliminated in the United States, though they can be imported by an ill person from a country where the disease has not been eradicated. It is impossible to overstate the life-saving effect of vaccines.


However, despite their incredible effectiveness, there are side-effects associated with certain vaccines for some people. The most common side effects are minor, such as tenderness, redness, or itching at the site of the vaccine injection. 


However, some side effects are significantly worse, though those side effects are extremely rare.  Some of the worst side effects are allergic reactions to ingredients in the vaccine. For example, some vaccines include parts of eggs. If you are allergic to eggs, then you will likely have an allergic reaction to a vaccine that includes that ingredient. There may also be reactions to the vaccine itself. For example, the CDC estimates that for every one million anthrax vaccines administered, one person will likely have an allergic reaction. If you have any allergies, you should speak with your doctor about whether certain vaccines are safe for you.


Sometimes, the person who is administering the vaccine will do so incorrectly.  An incorrectly placed injection can, as you might imagine, cause injury. That injury can be extremely painful and disabling. This can occur with any vaccine. 


This is only a partial list of the potential side effects of vaccines, but these potential side effects are the downside of vaccines. It is important to remember, however, that the risks of serious side effects are incredibly low. It is also important to compare those downsides with the upsides of vaccines - the successful prevention of deadly and disabling diseases.


Furthermore, there is a program in place to help people who have been harmed by vaccines.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was an increase in the number of lawsuits over alleged vaccine injuries.  Defending these lawsuits became so expensive, that some vaccine manufacturers were going to stop making certain vaccines.  That would have resulted in a definite increase in the rates of the diseases those vaccines prevented, and would have resulted in many unnecessary deaths.


So, Congress, seeking to prevent a looming danger to the health and lives of all Americans, created a law that the made costs from these lawsuits more predictable.  The result of that law is what is called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program or VICP. For each vaccine manufactured and sold, the manufacturers place a little bit of money into a fund.  People who are injured by vaccines can petition a court to receive money from that fund.


However, there are time limits to petitioning the VICP, and navigating the program can be complicated. Therefore, if you believe you have been injured by a vaccine, you should contact an attorney with experience in vaccine injury claims right away.

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