• Suits planned over vaccine-induced hepatitis B

    SAPPORO (Kyodo) Hundreds of people who contracted hepatitis B in their childhood through mandatory vaccinations will file a series of damages suits against the government starting next month, according to a group of lawyers. The move comes after the Diet moved to enact relief measures in January for people who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood products and fought their cases against the government in court. Lawsuits will be filed at a total of 11 district courts across Japan. The lawyers' group said after a meeting Saturday in Sapporo that the government has failed to present concrete measures to redress other patients following a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 ordering it to compensate five hepatitis B victims. In that ruling, the top court recognized causal links between the plaintiffs' inoculations and infections. It also found the government responsible for physicians using the same hypodermic needles repeatedly when giving group vaccinations at public health centers. Vaccinations against several diseases had been mandated by the government prior to 1994 but are now only recommended, following a number of lawsuits involving side effects from inoculations. The first group of about 20 patients, who are believed to have contracted hepatitis B from group vaccinations because transmission of the virus from their mothers was unlikely, will go to the Sapporo District Court on March 28. They are seeking compensation of

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