Last week, the first ever court award was announced for a vaccinate-related autism claim. The family of Hannah Poling said that she was developing at a normal rate, until she received vaccinations for nine diseases when she was 18 months old. The diseases included measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae, polio, varicella, and diphtheria.
The Poling family is set to receive more than $1.5 million dollars to take care of Hannah for the first year alone. They will then receive over $500,000 each year. This could total $20 million in her lifetime, according to a party who is familiar with the case.
After Poling received the vaccinations in July of 2000, she took a turn for the worse. She developed many symptoms that are common among children with autism, such as finicky eating happens, screaming tantrums, and not acknowledging or making contact with others in the same vicinity. The claim was filed in federal vaccine court in 2002, and was settled by the government five years later. The rest of the wait was then dedicated to figuring out how much the family should receive.
What does this mean for the autism-vaccine debate? The government’s stance is that the vaccines served as a catalyst to an unknown mitochondrial disorder that Hannah had. Thus, her autism was a “result” of the vaccines, not “caused by” the vaccines.
Julie Gerberding, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and current president of Merck Vaccines, said: “The government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism. This does not represent anything other than a very specific situation and a very sad situation as far as the family of the affected child.”