50 Jurimetrics 229 (2009-2010)
Impact the Hurricane Hannah: The Government's Decision to Compensate in One Girl's Vaccine Injury Case Could Drastically Alter the Face of Public Health, The; Donovan, Michael J.

handle is hein.journals/juraba50 and id is 237 raw text is: DEEOPET INSIEC
AND TCHNOOGY AW

THE IMPACT OF HURRICANE HANNAH:
THE GOVERNMENT'S DECISION TO
COMPENSATE IN ONE GIRL'S VACCINE
INJURY CASE COULD DRASTICALLY ALTER
THE FACE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Michael J. Donovan*
ABSTRACT: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rank immuni-
zations as one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. In
the last 100 years, vaccination has eradicated smallpox globally and brought under
control many other infectious diseases. Inversely proportional to the success of vacci-
nations, however, is the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a broad or-
ganic disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication.
A persistent, unsubstantiated hypothesis posits a connection between the mandatory
childhood vaccination regimen and the increase in ASD. Although this theory is not
supported by peer-reviewed literature, a recent development in the administrative Vac-
cine Court has fueled the debate. In Poling ex rel. Poling v. Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Hannah Poling brought a claim for compensation, alleging that her
ASD resulted from her childhood vaccinations. The United States' conclusion, made
through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, that Poling was due compensa-
tion ignited the mass media and advocacy groups. Even though contrary to several
recent decisions by the Vaccine Court, some media sources have used the government's
decision in Poling to support the autism-vaccination connection, which may in turn
lead to lower vaccination rates among children. This lack of adherence to immunization
protocol could result in an increased risk of infectious disease outbreaks, similar to
what was observed globally after the initial report of a vaccine-autism connection. In
the first seven months of 2008, more measles cases were reported to the CDC than at
any time in the last dozen years. To address this concern, this comment suggests a two-
part approach. First, although the United States did not concede compensation in the
three February 2009 cases, the United States still faces approximately five thousand
cases before the Vaccine Court, and it should ensure its Vaccine Court strategy is to
require causation be demonstrated before it concedes compensation. Second, personal-
ized medicine should be used whenever available to minimize circumstances where
rare vaccine side effects are possible.
*J.D. candidate, Pedrick Scholar, Strouse Scholar, and Law, Science & Innovation Center
Scholar, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Ph.D., Immunology and Parasitology, 2007,
University of Notre Dame; B.S., Microbiology, 2001, University of Michigan.

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