My cousin who is an MD, visited us for dinner last night. We were having an interesting conversation about vaccination and the pseudo-science of the anti-vacctionationists. Lori mentioned the case fo Hannah Poling which my cousin was not familiar with. As a happy coincidence, when I pulled up Neurologica this morning I saw Dr. Novella's post about a new review in the NEJM . It gives a nice history of the US government's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
The VICP was created by the government to protect companies that produce vaccines from lawsuits. As a result of several lawsuits in the 1970's and 1980's fewer companies were production vital vaccines. The government as a public health issue is clearly interested in having everyone get vaccinated to promote herd immunity . It is also true that vaccines have a certain small percentage of bad out comes. The VICP therefore was intended to provide compensation to those legitimately injured by vaccines. According to the NEJM article, it seems like the justification for some recent payout (including Hannah Poling's) were shaky.
Furthermore, the Hannah Polling case was sensationalized by the media as supporting the bogus link between vaccines and autism. Hannah Poling suffers from encephalopathy that was caused by a mitochondrial enzyme deficit. The result was some cognitive deficits similar to autism. An important point to remember is that autism is a clinical diagnosis. You can't just get a blood test for autism. It is therefore possible to twist the facts in the Poling case because the symptoms resemble those of autism even though they have a completely independent mechanism.
On a related note a good take down of Jim Carrey, Jenny Mcarthy and their so called "Green Vaccine" movement.