IN AN effort to ensure an adequate and uninterrupted supply of vaccines for mandated pediatric immunization and to encourage the continued timely administration of these vaccines, the American Medical Association formed a commission to explore the need for a compensation system for vaccine-injured patients. From these deliberations recommendations for federal legislation were made and approved by the Association's House of Delegates in June 1984. Draft federal legislation was prepared calling for the establishment of a federal vaccine compensation program as an exclusive remedy for those seriously injured by mandated vaccines. There was considerable urgency since the number of national suppliers for one of these vaccines (diphtheria-tetanuspertussis, or DTP) decreased from three to one. There also was a reasonable possibility that the sole remaining supplier would be unable to obtain insurance renewal.
The concern with DTP vaccine resides with its pertussis cell components, which occasionally induce severe neurological injury. In order