Questions Arise Under Homeland Security Act Liability Provisions

Author:Ms Susan Feigin Harris
Profession:Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
 
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The Homeland Security Act provides general protections for persons and institutions assisting the government during a bioterrorism incident and specific protections for smallpox vaccination programs. Section 304 of the Act went into effect on January 24, 2003, but the Secretary of HHS must make a "declaration" that smallpox poses a potential public health emergency risk requiring vaccination as a countermeasure. Until such a declaration is made, the Act provides for no protection for persons involved in providing countermeasures. There are significant concerns regarding liability issues involved with a smallpox vaccination program due to the incidence of vaccine-related complications, including several issues that require additional legal clarification concerning who and under what circumstances the immunity attaches.

To view this week's Health Briefs (a listing of Federal and Texas regulations affecting health care), visit our website at

http://www.velaw.com/publications/healthcare/HB012403.pdf.

For information on Vinson & Elkins' HIPAA Consortium, visit

http://www.velaw.com/publications/publications.cfm?pub_ID=9&hc_ID=3.

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