A vaccine injury is a complication that can be traced to the use of a vaccine. All vaccines come with some risks, although these risks have been greatly reduced by refining and improving the science behind vaccines. People injured by vaccines may be entitled to compensation in some regions of the world, where compensation programs have been established to limit manufacturer liability. As the rate of infectious disease in many regions has declined, concerns about vaccine injury have increased, and the topic has become controversial at times in the public health community.
Some potential complications of a vaccine include allergic reactions or anaphylaxis, caused when patients are exposed to allergens in vaccines such as eggs, along with encephalitis and neuritis. Sometimes, people can experience a rare conditions called Guillain-Barre syndrome, where the body begins to attack the peripheral nervous system after mistakenly identifying it as a hostile organism. People also typically experience more mild complications like soreness, fatigue, and malaise for several days after getting a vaccine.
In some cases, a vaccine injury can be very serious. While the risks of death from vaccination are very low, complications like permanent neurological damage are possible. Historically, these were viewed as an acceptable risk when compared to the certain risk of contracting infectious disease. As vaccination programs became more successful and the frequency of such diseases declined, some people began expressing more concerns about vaccine injuries, taking vaccine manufacturers to court over such injuries or refusing vaccinations altogether.
Some manufacturers responded by limiting or halting vaccine production, arguing that the potential costs were too high for them to continue. In response, some governments began taking on the liability themselves with vaccine injury compensation programs. Such programs process large numbers of claims each year, determining if health problems are indeed linked with vaccinations and providing families with financial assistance to cover care for people with vaccine injuries.
While some conditions are accepted and known risks of vaccination, others are subjects of dispute. Perhaps most famously, autism is sometimes attributed to ingredients in vaccines, in part because of a 1998 publication claiming that vaccines caused autism. Despite later being retracted, this paper had a significant impact on social attitudes about vaccines and some autistics and advocates believed that vaccination was the root cause of autism. Most vaccine injury compensation programs do not recognize vaccination as a cause of autism and will not provide compensation for autism claims.