Parents whose child's injury or death was caused by government-mandated immunization may file for compensation until Jan. 31, 1991.

While vaccines have curbed many childhood diseases, a small percentage of children suffered adverse reactions caused by diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio vaccines.Before Congress passed an amendment to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, the families of injured children had no resort but medical malpractice or product liability lawsuits.

Some such suits resulted in no findings of legal liability. And when there was recovery, the expense and complexity of the litigation commanded huge expenditures from doctors, drug companies and the families of victims. The complications created a threat that vaccine production might be halted.

The U.S. Claims Court in Washington, D.C., oversees vaccine-related claims. Local attorneys registered with the Claims Court can provide information or legal aid in filing.