Swine flu manufacturers have now been granted legal immunity in case something goes wrong that causes side effects associated with the vaccine. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services signed a document making federal officials and vaccine makers immune from lawsuits related to any ill effects from the swine flu vaccine.
Fears about the effects of a novel swine flu vaccine have sparked much discussion. A swine flu outbreak among soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J in 1974 resulted in vaccinations that caused side effects including Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that causes paralysis. The result was thousands of lawsuits.
Stephen Sugarman, a law professor who specializes in product liability at the University of California at Berkeley says, "The government paid out quite a bit of money”, following past swine flu vaccination side effects.
Most cases of swine flu have been mild. The WHO has stopped tracking cases. No one knows how many infections have really occurred, because not everyone seeks treatment.
Five pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing swine flu vaccine. The drugs are not as profitable as some, like cancer drugs, but immunity from legal action provides incentive to vaccine makers.
Paul Pennock, a New York plaintiffs attorney on medical liability cases spoke out about the immunity granted to swine flu vaccine makers, saying "If you're going to ask people to do this for the common good, then let's make sure for the common good that these people will be taken care of if something goes wrong." The document granting protection from lawsuits to swine flu vaccine makers was signed by Sebelius last month.