In Vaccine Court, Anna Kirkland examines the special court established under the United States Court of Federal Claims that handles claims of harm caused vaccines.
Drawing on court records, the book explores how legal institutions resolve complex scientific questions: What are vaccine injuries and how do we recognize them? What does it mean to transform these questions into a legal problem and funnel them through a national court, as we do in the U.S.? What does justice require for vaccine injury claims, and how can we deliver it? These are highly contested questions, and the terms in which they have been debated over the last forty years reveal deep fissures in our society over motherhood, community, health, harm, and trust in authority.
While many scholars have argued it is foolish to let judges and lawyersdecide medical claims, Kirkland shows how well legal institutions can handle specialized scientific matters. Vaccine Court is an accessible and thorough account of what the court is, why we have it, and what it does.