Vaccines on trial

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Science  28 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6336, pp. 370-373
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6336.370

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Leah Durant may be unique among vaccine injury lawyers: She was moved to begin representing people hurt by vaccines after sustaining her own painful shoulder injury, the result of a tetanus injection administered too high on her arm. Durant's Washington, D.C., practice at what is popularly known at the vaccine court provides a window into rare but real—as opposed to bogus—vaccine risks. Among these, shoulder injuries like Durant's are easily the most common brought to the court by petitioners. Others include nerve-damaging autoimmune reactions like Guillain-Barré syndrome and brachial neuritis; and a multisystem allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. The 30-year-old vaccine court, part of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, provides a no-fault route to compensation for those hurt by real vaccine injuries—with the costs of their lawyers picked up by the government.