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We ran this post in 2008. In light of the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth decision, we thought it a good time to review how the vaccine court came about.

By J.B. Handley

Almost 22 years ago, on October 20, 1986, the Los Angeles Times ran a story regarding a controversial bill making its way through Congress, the headline shouted:


The story went on to explain the highly divisive nature of the bill, intended to shield vaccine makers from liability, and the Reagan administration was speaking out to express their opposition:

In a strongly worded letter to House Speaker Tip O'Neil, the then secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Otis R. Bowen said, "The bill is likely to do little to assure the vaccine supply or to improve our childhood immunization efforts."

Assistant Attorney General John R. Bolton, writing to the Head of the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of the Department of Justice, said the White House opposed the legislation because it was creating, "a major new entitlement program for which no legitimate need has been demonstrated."

Ronald Reagan himself was troubled by the vaccine compensation bill and was quoted as saying, "Although the goal of compensating those persons is a worthy one, the program has…serious deficiencies."

The Reagan administration seemed to be particularly concerned with two issues: who was going to pay for the compensation required for vaccine injury, and the precedent of the federal government indemnifying private companies from liability.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was actually part of a larger bill, the Omnibus Health Bill (S. 1744), that was introduced in the waning days of the 99th Congress in late 1986. Leading a four-year effort to pass the controversial legislation on vaccine liability was a Congressman from the 30th District of California, Henry Waxman. Waxman's bill was supported by vaccine manufacturers, who were lobbying very hard on its behalf, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To be fair, like many pieces of legislation, the bill had some reasonable intentions. The old DPT shot's rate of damage to children was skyrocketing, lawsuits were mounting, and vaccine makers were headed for the exits. And, the bill proposed the establishment of VAERS -- today's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System -- which beat the hell out of the non-existent system in place at the time.

In the waning days of the 99th Congress, the bill's passage was up in the air, with the White House declaring plans to veto the entire Omnibus package, due almost exclusively to the provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Congressman Waxman, the bill's author, was unyielding, and worked the press to his advantage in the final days declaring:

"This bill is the first step to taking care of children hurt in the process of protecting society from epidemics and to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines. If the President vetoes it, he will leave these children to fend for themselves and leave the country with risks or shortages or skyrocketing prices. If he vetoes it, I hope he has some emergency plans to start making vaccines himself because the manufacturers tell us they may very well stop."

And, with the final threat of losing the entire manufacturing base of vaccine makers coming from Henry Waxman and the AAP, Ronald Reagan made the bill law on November 15, 1986 "with mixed feelings."


I really don't believe Henry Waxman had any idea what a monster he had actually unleashed with the passage of this 1986 bill. Reading the newspaper articles discussing the bill before it passed, I was struck by the complete absence of one idea from any of the people or organizations advocating for its passing: the need to create a supportive environment for producing NEW vaccines.

Not once, in any of the dozens of articles I read on the bill, did anyone even hint that our kids were in trouble unless many more vaccines were introduced. Waxman and others were focused solely on keeping the handful of vaccines we did have from disappearing -- the bill’s purpose was to save the existing vaccine program, not create a foundation for tripling the number of shots given to our kids.

I found a 1986 article from a Texas newspaper, the Mainland Extra, to be particularly revealing. In reminding its readers why vaccines were important, the Mainland explained that children in Texas needed to have three shots: DPT, MMR, and Polio, between the ages of 5 and 12. Shots before Age 5? Not even part of the agenda – just make sure your kids have them before kindergarten. (Who knew that only six years later, the CDC would be pushing to give Hep B on Day 1 of life!)

So, let's pause and think about this again:

The 1986 law was really enacted to save the existing vaccine program from collapsing.

At the time, the CDC's official schedule included 10 total vaccines that children were recommended to receive by the age of 5.

But, as the Texas article revealed (and the shot records of most kids born in the early 80s would corroborate) children were vaccinated with less regularity, when they were much older, and with even fewer vaccines than the recommended schedule.

Not one proponent of the bill advocated a need to motivate manufacturers to create NEW vaccines or ever cited anywhere that we were experiencing an epidemic of diseases for which we did not yet have vaccines – this notion had nothing to do with why the bill was passed.

And yet, as we all know, the passing of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986 was a watershed moment for the vaccine industry, unleashing two decades of escalating vaccine mandates, culminating in the bloated, 36 shot schedule we have today for kids under 5. The act sheltered vaccine companies, and they turned their R&D budgets back on, figured out how to ensure they bought the bureaucrats who decided which vaccines are added to the schedule through the ACIP, turned vaccine development into a profit growth engine, and the rest is history.


I believe that we won’t end the autism epidemic until we reform the vaccine schedule. While our enemies try to label us as “antivaccine,” the truth is that most of us are looking for moderation and a higher standard of caution in how and when vaccines are administered.

When you mention to a public health official the idea of reducing today’s vaccine schedule to a shorter list, like the one we used to give in the 1980s, they immediately kick into their pre-recorded lecture about the return of deadly disease, etc., etc. And yet, a close look at history, the history before vaccine manufacturers were indemnified, shows a very different truth.

In the early 1980s, with only 10 vaccines on our schedule, deadly diseases had been dealt with. There were no frightening childhood disease epidemics scaring parents and wreaking havoc on our kids. And, during the very time when the fate of the entire vaccine program potentially hung in the balance because of the liability produced from DPT, NO ONE WAS ADVOCATING THE NEED FOR MORE VACCINES.

Oh, and the autism rate was 1 in 10,000, rather than the soon to be 1 in 100 we are seeing today.

One other thing that didn’t appear in any of the articles discussing the vaccine program in 1986? The word “autism”. No one had any clue what is was back then.

Let’s go back to the vaccine schedule before 1986, and watch the autism rate plummet. You can prevent deadly disease while preventing autism, will a politician ever have the guts to try?

J.B. Handley is co-founder of Generation Rescue and a contributor to Age of Autism.



Well he is retiring I see.
Do we tax payers have to foot his retirement?
Couldn't he just live off of what pharma gave him for getting the vaccine court in place and they could make as many vaccines as they wished with out worrying about being sued.

Make him pay his own health insurance out of what he got from pharma too.

Birgit Calhoun

What's worse, there was no interest in making vaccines safer after 1986. The vaccine manufacturers all of a sudden were given free rein over what they put in vaccines and where they bought the ingredients. The quasi indemnification, already then, made it unnecessary to think about recalling vaccines as they should have done after the secret Simpsonwood meeting. When car manufacturers have a seatbelt problem, they have to recall those belts. When vaccine makers have a mercury problem, they just hope that the autism rate goes up.


These are such good points, JB.

Media Scholar

How any one could even suggest that Waxman has good intentions is puzzling. Waxman is corporate greed personified.


Bolton and Reagan were VERY correct in their opposition to the Vaccine Compensation Bill. Now we're stuck with an abhorrent piece of legislation. We should lobby to repeal it. Supreme Court justices are just supposed to interprete the law, not make law. At least, so the theory goes. IMHO, John Bolton would make a very good president. I wish he would run. Maybe one of our legislators would champion a bill to repeal the Compensation Act. The sheer idiocy of the Act is mind-numbing. We, the taxpayers, are effectively subsidizing pharma's malfeasance with respect to vaccine safety, leaving the majority of vaccine-injured citizens with no meaningful legal recourse. That is so wrong!!!


The vaccine schedules are nanoparticulate drug delivery systems, designed to serially deliver non-human antigens, and neurotoxic metals, including aluminum, mercury, fluoride, and borate, across biomembranes, in the brain, heart, lungs, gut, pancreas, and kidneys. Vaccines are cumulatively, synergistically, and systemically toxic and unreasonably dangerous.

Homeopathy is a valid health paradigm, and we are quantum-coherent living organisms, as has been elegantly described by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Dr. Jean Luc Montagnier.

Our survival as a species will depend on homeopathy. Allopathy is a flawed paradigm which assumes without proof that pharma's xenobiotics, chemical and biological intoxicants, invariably prevent, stall, or reverse disease without unreasonable risk.


“Unavoidably unsafe”? Yes, but only if they are mandated. They are avoidably unsafe with a proper informed consent. Here is the problem in a nutshell: you have moral entrepeneurs and politicians ostensibly making decisions for “the greater good”, in violation of Constitutional Equal Protection and God-given inalienable rights to privacy, medical freedom, and religious freedom. The debate is not scientific - it is entirely based on money and politics.

“I am no longer "trying to dig up evidence to prove" vaccines cause autism. There is already abundant evidence,.-..... This debate is not scientific but is political.-” – David Ayoub, MD

“The truth that vaccine policy is not about science or safety but about money and politics is finally seeing the light of day.” – K. Paul Stoller, MD, FACHM

Many if not most of the vaccines on the vaccine schedules are designed to be nanoparticulate drug delivery systems to cross biomembranes throughout the body. Neurotoxic metals, e.g. mercury, aluminum, borate, and fluoride, are being delivered across our biomembranes. Their toxicity is cumulative and synergistic. It’s time that we called-them-out on the “ration of bullsh*t” that they keep feeding us. Inactive ingredients (aka excipients)? This is FRAUD. It is willful deception of the public.

Maurine Meleck

I am sure Waxman was well compensated by the drug companies for pushing their agenda. No doubt why he still remains in office. I doubt we'll ever know if he had good intentions. Thanks, JB.


The other side of the vaccine issue is National Security, it has nothing to do with healthcare, or even shoring up Merck, et al profits. To Reagan this was rationalized as insuring National Security. It's hardly possible that some family in Iraq will be able to take the US to Civil Court because of a government initiated yellow cake lie that caused America's Shock and Awe bombings which injured a Baghdad family and destroyed their SunGlasses Hut franchise in the Saddam Mall by the airport. The US faces no repercussions in Civil Court, there are no claims against lies and deceit of this magnitude. Collateral damage is excused.

America's war on disease is corrupt as most wars are, but the public perception is that we must do everything we can to prevent innocent little blue eyed Sally from catching the measles at an airport. It just might kill her, it just might kill us all if ignored. The government feeds this fear by hawking, creating, partnering, advertising, silencing, defaming, arresting, and controlling the public perception.

Vaccine Court is not a court anymore than a loan officer's...... no strike that, a loan officer answers to someone, so Vaccine Court is really no different that your Grandfather's generosity when your mom sends you to him to ask for help with your college education, ..... no strike that too, he has an emotional invested interest. So Vaccine Court is nothing I can relate to yet I'm knee deep in it as I fight for justice for Ben. Vaccine Court has no jury of peers that could ultimately render a $150 million dollar punitive damage award on the behalf of a Petitioner. The idea of the Court is to control, winners are never winners, losers can never appeal, it's a quiet backroom deal with no CourtTV cameras keeping everyone honest.

Yeah we might send the family in Iraq a new SunGlasses hut, Oprah will be there with her camera, the media will all cover the "humanitarian" effort repeating the Official Government Press Release word for word, but just around the corner 1 in 63 boys are seriously injured, houses blown to pieces, businesses ruined, and there is now a culture being raised to cut a piece of justice out of the belly of the beast, by any means necessary.

I sense a fear of a backlash in Capital Hill. I hear pensioners and Wall Street demanding protection of the too big to fail pharmaceuticals. And I see in the future, a culture of Americans taking to the streets demanding justice.

Reagan was scared of the Russians, was sacred of AIDS, was scared of being labeled anti-vaccine, and in 1986 when any day a little blue-eyed Sally all spotted with measles might be brought into an emergency room, who didn't want to protect this little sweetie pie? Particularly as JB pointed out, the were no kids in our neighborhoods who were affected with autism. This was pre-Shock and Awe.

On a side note, it's interesting that there was a spike in outbreaks of measles right around this time. The "upside" of this collateral damage is the need to for restoration, I'm surprised Halliburton doesn't own any Autism Clinics or a care facilities sheltering adults with autism. Maybe they are working on it.


According to David Kirby's article written in April of last year, the autism boom began in 1988.

I am sure Rep. Waxman had good intentions but unfortunately, good intentions can sometimes lead to bad consequences. Great article btw.

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