In recent years, a hypothesis has surfaced stating that vaccines which contain small amounts of mercury (used as a preservative) bear some link to the recent rise in autism diagnoses, leading some parents of autistic children to consider lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.
It should be stated from the outset that there is no conclusive evidence linking vaccines to autism. In fact, autism rates in California have increased, even as use of the mercury-based preservative had been decreasing for several years.
With all of this said, there are still some risks associated with vaccines, which may give rise to legal action, either against the manufacturer, or the doctor administering it.
Under certain circumstances and in certain states, yes. All states allow a person to opt out for medical reasons, such as a previously compromised immune system. Every state except West Virginia, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia has a religious exemption for mandatory vaccination.
Eighteen states allow exemptions for personal or philosophical reasons. Those states are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Non-citizens do not have any exemptions. Foreigners who wish to work, reside or stay in the U.S. must be vaccinated according the rules of the federal government and the state they residing in.
In most circumstances, yes. Most states allow employers to retain their employees at-will; the employees work for the employers as long as both parties consent to the relationship. However, mandatory employer vaccination is restricted by contract and religious discrimination laws.
Since discrimination laws prevent employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of religion, religious exemptions from mandatory state vaccinations will also apply to mandatory employer vaccination.
Contracts can sometimes specifically state what the employer’s sick policy is. If the policy and the contract does not mention vaccination and the procedure for illness is restricted to certain steps, then the employer may be forced to abide by the prior agreement.
If an employer requires a vaccination, but the contract states otherwise or if the employee is part of a protected class, then employees may have recourse to the courts to protect their rights.
If the individual vaccine has some kind of manufacturing defect which causes injury, the victims will almost always be able to recover, assuming they can prove that a defect existed, and that it caused the injury.
If a doctor fails to exercise reasonable care in giving the vaccine (causing infection or a negative reaction, for example), anyone injured should be able to sue the doctor for malpractice.
Federal law requires that complaints against vaccine manufacturers (though not doctors) go through the federal Vaccination Injury Compensation Program before they can go to trial. This board has awarded compensation to autistic children for vaccine-related injuries in the past, but it has never actually found that vaccines cause or contribute to autism.
Challenging a government or employer can be intimidating for many people. Likewise, determining the proper cause of injury and recovery after a vaccination injury can be difficult. An experienced personal injury or employment lawyer can make all the difference.
Last Modified: 11-14-2012 10:44 AM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
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