Polio Vaccine Award Opens Doors for Researchers


The problem with treated live vaccines has always been that live viral particles can occasionally cause infection in the vaccinated person as well as people they’re exposed to. A prime example is the chickenpox vaccine, which is a well known cause of shingles in older adults exposed to vaccinated children. On Friday, jurors found that active polio vaccine was the cause 30 years ago when Staten Island resident Dominic Tenuto contracted polio after changing the diaper of his recently vaccinated 5-month old daughter. Now 61, Tenuto said that his bout with polio caused partial paralysis and led to his losing his job on Wall Street.

In the March 20, 2009 verdict, the jury in the polio vaccine injury trial awarded Tenuto damages in the amount of $22.5 million to be paid by Lederle, the manufacturer of the vaccine. This was the highest amount for damages ever awarded by a Staten Island Jury. The drug company plans to appeal.


This ruling, which clearly links an active viral vaccine to an active viral infection is important in more ways than the obvious. Earlier this year, a panel found that the measles, mumps an rubella vaccine bore no relationship to autism, despite the finding of live viral particles in vaccinated children. Current lawsuits are pending in the cases of several deaths attributed to the Gardasil vaccine used to prevent human papilloma virus (HPV) cancer, a known cause of cervical cancer.

The oral polio vaccine has a long history of controversy. The oral polio vaccine developed by Albert Sabin was first licensed in 1962. The vaccine was produced by culturing the virus in monkey kidney tissue. The monkeys used are known to harbor a number of cancer-causing viruses. One virus in particular, simian virus 40 (SV 40) is known to cause a variety of cancers, particularly lung, bone, and brain tumors and is thought to be responsible for the vast increase in leukemia seen in the last 20 years.

This lawsuit opens doors, hinting of compensation for others directly affected by the oral polio vaccine and encouraging the studies of researchers who have long suspected the vaccine to be responsible for numerous health problems.