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Vaccine Court Decision: thimerosal containing vaccines do not cause autism

Posted Mar 12 2010 12:26pm

The decisions are in for the second phase of the Omnibus Autism Proceedingsthe “vaccine court” trials to determine if autism can be considered as a vaccine injury. The first set of decisions were handed down last year (those regarding the MMR as a causative agent). This set explored whether thimerosal, the mercury containing preservative formerly used in childhood vaccines, could cause autism.

The decisions are long, and I expect there to be much discussion. Below are the final paragraphs from the decisions. These are for the three “test cases”, the hearings held for three specific children who petitioned for compensation on the basis of autism as a vaccine injury. They are clear and decisive: the evidence does not support thimerosal containing vaccines as causing autism, in general or in these three children in specific.

Petitioners’ theory of vaccine-related causation is scientifically unsupportable. In the absence of a sound medical theory causally connecting William’s received vaccines to his autistic condition, the undersigned cannot find the proposed sequence of cause and effect to be logical or temporally appropriate. Having failed to satisfy their burden of proof under the articulated legal standard, petitioners cannot prevail on their claim of vaccine-related causation. Petitioners’ claim is dismissed, and the Clerk of the Court SHALL ENTER JUDGMENT accordingly.

Thus, I feel deep sympathy for the King family. Further, I find it unfortunate that my ruling in this case means that the Program will not be able to provide funds to assist this family, in caring for their child who suffers from a serious disorder. It is certainly my hope that our society will find ways to ensure that generous assistance is available to the families of all autistic children, regardless of the cause of their disorders. Such families must cope every day with tremendous challenges in caring for their autistic children, and all are deserving of sympathy and admiration. However, I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence. Congress designed the Program to compensate only the families of those individuals whose injuries or deaths can be linked causally, either by a Table Injury presumption or by a preponderance of “causation-in-fact” evidence, to a listed vaccine. In this case, the evidence advanced by the petitioners has fallen far short of demonstrating such a link. Accordingly,

Petitioners have not demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Colin’s condition was either caused or significantly aggravated by his vaccinations. Thus, they have failed to establish entitlement to compensation and the petition for compensation is therefore DENIED. In the absence of a motion for review filed pursuant to RCFC, Appendix B, the clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

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