U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case About Vaccine Side Effects

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether drug makers can be sued by parents who claim their children suffered serious health problems from vaccines.


The justices have agreed to hear an appeal from parents in Pittsburgh who want to sue Wyeth over the serious side effects their daughter, six months old at the time, allegedly suffered as a result of the company’s diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled the parents, saying a 1986 federal law bars their claims. That law set up a special vaccine court to handle disputes — shielding companies from most lawsuits to help ensure a steady vaccine supply.

Only one state appeals court, the Georgia Supreme Court, has ruled that families can sue in a vaccine case. The vaccine industry has fiercely opposed the Georgia ruling, in which a couple alleged that their son suffered neurological damage after receiving vaccine booster shots that contained the preservative thimerosal.