Correction: Flu vaccine is not covered by VICP

Litigation wasn’t the cause of the shortage, but I was wrong to say that “tort reform” was already in place. Sorry.

Two of Brad DeLong’s commenters point out that I was wrong to say that flu vaccine is covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation program. VICP covers the vaccines routinely given to children, but not flu vaccine.

An official advisory committee looked at the question in 1996 and decided that the rates of adverse events and litigation were low enough to make VICP coverage unnecessary. Whether that committee was wrong, or whether things have changed since and the threat of litigation has become a factor in limiting flu vaccine production, I don’t know.

The President’s spokesman’s comment is still nonsensical: this year’s shortage didn’t result from the unwillingness of drug companies to make the vaccine. The planned production level was adequate to meet the demand. The shortage resulted from having half of the supply made in a single plant, which turned out to have quality control problems.

Still, I shouldn’t have criticized him for ignoring a nonexistent fact. That’s the danger of blogging outside one’s area of expert knowledge. Caveat lector.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com