Earlier this week, the highest court in the European Union ruled that “courts can consider whether a vaccination led to someone developing an illness even when there is no scientific proof.”
The Court of Justice ruled in favor of a French claimant who initiated legal action against Sanofi Pasteur in 2006 for an alleged vaccine injury. The plaintiff claimed that a 1988 hepatitis B immunization resulted in his multiple sclerosis diagnosis the following year.
Numerous studies have disproven the link between the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis, a key argument that led to the case’s dismissal in France’s Court of Appeals. After the case was heard at France’s Court of Cassation, it reached the Court of Justice.
This landmark ruling significantly reduces the burden of proof for claimants by requiring the following evidence for cases: “the time between a vaccine’s administration and the onset of a disease, an individual’s previous state of health, the lack of any family history of the disease and a significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following vaccination.”
Vaccine experts have criticized the ruling for lowering the threshold of proof for adverse events following vaccination. Most notably, Dr. Paul Offit is quoted as saying, “Using those criteria, you could reasonably make the case that someone should be compensated for developing leukemia after eating a peanut butter sandwich.”
Given the increasing visibility that vaccine skeptics have received, the ruling could be used to validate their controversial arguments. Recent disease outbreaks, specifically the devastating measles outbreak in Minnesota, have demonstrated that anti-vaccine rhetoric has real-world implications.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) convened in Atlanta this week for the second of three meetings scheduled for 2017.
The committee voted to retain many of its influenza recommendations from the previous year, including a provision to expand approved influenza vaccine options for pregnant women. The group also advised against using FluMist for the 2017-2018 flu season, consistent with its recommendation against administering the nasal spray for the 2016-2017 season.
Committee members heard presentations on Shingrix, GSK’s herpes zoster vaccine that could potentially replace Merck’s Zostavax in national vaccine guidelines.
Regan et. al Clinical Infectious Diseases
Mothers who received seasonal TIV during pregnancy were significantly less likely to experience stillbirth compared with unvaccinated mothers. These results support the safety of seasonal influenza immunization during pregnancy and suggest a protective effect.
Oboho et al. The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pregnant women are at higher risk for serious illness and complications, including death, from influenza. For expectant mothers hospitalized with flu, early treatment with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir may shorten their time in the hospital, especially in severe cases, suggests a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The findings also underscore the importance of flu vaccination for this risk group.