Number of cases before the vaccine court drop off dramatically

28 Oct

We often hear about how there are about 5000 cases before the vaccine court claiming autism as a vaccine injury. What we don’t hear is that almost all of those cases were filed years ago.

Take a look at the data on the number of cases filed per year. Or, take a look at this graph I made of the data (click to enlarge):

Cases submitted to the vaccine court by year

Cases submitted to the vaccine court by year

Red shows autism cases filed. Black shows non-autism cases.

Not much needed in the way of discussion. Autism cases peaked in 2003, six years ago. Autism cases are now at about the same level or less than non-autism cases. It has been low and flat since about 2006.

I know I’ve done a lot of vaccine-oriented posts lately. This is a good indication that I need to spend time on other subjects.

10 Responses to “Number of cases before the vaccine court drop off dramatically”

  1. David N. Brown October 28, 2009 at 07:22 #

    I have a bit of a pet theory that there was something like a coordinated publicity “blitz” for vaccine-caused autism in 2005. Interesting that this happened when new claims were already dropping off. Also interesting that other types of claims stayed constant.

  2. Kwombles October 28, 2009 at 12:14 #


    So much misinformation abounds out there on vaccines and autism that thorough debunking, even when it feels a bit perseverating, is a vital public service. Anti-vaccination rhetoric puts people’s health at risk and further stigmatizes autistic individuals. It sure doesn’t help them or their family members.

  3. Joseph October 28, 2009 at 14:26 #

    I have a bit of a pet theory that there was something like a coordinated publicity “blitz” for vaccine-caused autism in 2005.

    2003 to 2005 was the peak of the anti-vax movement and the epidemic idea. This can be determined by various means.

    I don’t think there was an organized publicity blitz, like you see these days. That’s just how the meme spread.

    I would speculate that removal of 98% of thimerosal from pediatric vaccines was a great boost to the anti-vax movement, which lasted several years. But when said removal failed to produce the results they expected, things started to fall apart.

    Another major failure was the OAP, and one that is becoming evident now is the realization that autistic adults do exist at the expected prevalence rate.

  4. Science Mom October 28, 2009 at 15:04 #

    Joseph, I do believe that there was a somewhat concerted effort that brought about the spike in autism-vaccine cases:

    Interesting graph Sullivan, I wonder if that reflects a shift in the beliefs of parents or just the decrease in aggressive recruiting on the part of Shoemaker et al.

  5. Joseph October 28, 2009 at 15:42 #

    Ah, yes, Science Mom, there was some recruitment of plaintiffs, who in turn would’ve had to report to VAERS, and did so with the help of their lawyers, evidently. Most autism VAERS reports occur around that time period as well, actually with a peak in 2002; one year prior to the peak in cases filed, per Sullivan’s graph.

    Historically, again, I think the anti-vaxers were pretty confident about their thimerosal hypothesis. SafeMinds (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders) obviously led the way. (There was no Generation Rescue at the time.)

    As early as May 2002, it’s clear that SafeMinds had some sort of relationship with Waters & Kraus and was promoting their services prominently on their website.

  6. Ringside Seat October 28, 2009 at 16:35 #

    2004, of course, was the year in which Wakefield fell, and UK vaccination rates started to climb. Perhaps the plaintiff’s lawyers in the omnibus case knew as far back as then that they were going nowhere with his claims.

  7. David N. Brown October 28, 2009 at 19:25 #

    Thanks for info, which I think offers some circumstantial evidence for coordinated efforts. Waters and Kraus is based in Dallas, which is also home of Apothecure, and I think a center for ACAM too (both organizations whose members I think should be arrested). And Wakefield also settled in Texas. Of course, once so many similar organizations are in one area, mutual influence no longer requires “official” action.

  8. Joseph October 28, 2009 at 20:35 #

    2002 was a key year. If you look at news reports from that year, you’ll find many about a Homeland Security provision that allegedly protected the vaccine manufacturers and Eli Lilly in particular against litigation. You’ll find Lyn Redwood (of SafeMinds) quoted repeatedly and complaining that parents won’t be able to get their day in court and so forth.

    It’s not difficult to connect the dots. An intrigued parent goes to and finds a blue box that says “Late Breaking Lawsuit Info” at the top of the page.

    There was also substantial favorable coverage of vaccine hypotheses from major news outlets like The New York Times, CNN, the BBC, etc. In particular, that’s the year of a well known NYT article titled “The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory” by one Arthur Allen.

    For anyone who thinks 2008 was a good year for anti-vaxers (because of Hannah Poling and Jenny McCarthy) try 2002 or 2003. Even 2005.

  9. jypsy October 29, 2009 at 00:59 #

    I’m curious to know whatever became of the lawsuits filed in Canada in 2002 –
    Google shows nothing about Keean East except the class action suit being filed and a brief look turns up no news on Robyn White.

    The president of my local Autism Society was encouraging people to join the class action suit in 2002.

  10. patrick November 2, 2009 at 02:27 #

    perhaps it is a simple matter of doctors reluctance diagnosing autism. My daughter is almost five now, and they have finally conceded that yes, she is autistic. I know that she was a happy healthy baby, she had learned to say mommy, & daddy at 12 months. after her mmr shot she became a different person. she has never said mommy or daddy or anything else since then.

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