The government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based
on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines. We have compensated cases in
which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be ac-
companied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or
Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries may have shown signs of autism
before the decision to compensate, or may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but we
do not track cases on this basis.
2. Is the government currently conducting research on the pending vaccine court autism plaintiffs to
see if there are commonalities, patterns of pre-existing conditions or other patterns of medical and/or
genetic factors that could play a role, such as in the Polling case?
We are not commenting on the Poling case at this time. In 2002, the Chief Master of the U.S. Court of
Federal Claims created the Omnibus Autism Proceeding to adjudicate petitions filed with VICP al-
leging autism or autism spectrum disorder from either the MMR vaccine or thimerisol-containing
vaccines, or from both. Anticipating large numbers of claims, the Court allowed the filing of
“shortform” petitions, but without medical records. As a result, a very small number of the pending
5,000 claims have medical records, making it impossible for us to review and compare commonal-
ities, patterns, or any general trends among all of the petitioners. Over time, we may learn more about
patterns of pre-existing conditions and the role vaccines play, if any, in their progression. As we have
done in the past, the VICP medical staff will look at the court findings and any new scientific in-
formation, and may publish scientific articles as appropriate.
3. Several high ranking government health officials including Dr. Zerhouni and Dr. Gerberding have
been claiming they did not know of the Polling case until the media began reporting on it, and still
have not seen the medical files. This implies that the nation’s top health officials are not apprised of
the findings and cases in vaccine court.
Is this correct? And has it always been the case?
CDC and NIH, along with other agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and
the scientists and health professionals involved in the nation’s immunization programs, do regularly
share information and collaborate together on the wide variety of issues surrounding vaccines and
vaccination. In their respective roles, Dr. Zerhouni and Dr. Gerberding comment frequently on the
safety and efficacy of vaccination.
Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, and consistent with the federal Privacy Act, ac-
cess to medical files is limited to HRSA’s Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation staff and medical
experts, as well as the legal personnel at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Court of Federal
Claims, who may see these records in the course of litigation. This has always been the case.