December 27, 2002 3:59 PM
As the US and its allies prepare for war, the workers' compensation system faces a massive threat to its existence, the adverse consequences of vaccinating healthy workers with smallpox vaccine. The vaccine is a live virus that can adversely effect immunosuppresed individuals, ie. those on chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS and transplant patients. Furthermore, the live vaccine that is injected on the surface of the skin may be transmitted by contact within the usual two-week healing period.
The Federal government, following the September 11th legislative template (The Federal Victims Compensation Act), has yet again established a barrier to potential benefits from 3rd party sources. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 §304 shields most suppliers and distributors from liability by substituting the shielded Federal government as a potential defendant .
The workers' compensation system will be the principal prescription for benefits for smallpox vaccine casualties. While workers' compensation was designed in 1911 as a social remedial system to provide an expeditious delivery of benefits in a summary fashion, it has now become a complex adversarial system encumbered with litigious and dilatory practices where motions for temporary and medical benefits take months and years to adjudicate and appeal. Not only will healthy workers be casualties of adverse smallpox reactions, but the workers' compensation system itself may also be among the fatalities.