Those who know me personally know I don't vaccinate my children. I did vaccinate them. I promote vaccinations. I think vaccinations are a wonderful thing that saves millions of lives. I have worked at two different health departments for almost 10 years now, and in that time have promoted these products on a daily basis. I am not anti-vaccine.
When I started at the health department around 2002, the Wakefield study on MMR and autism was in it's height. I read it. I was skeptical. It was such a small sample of children. Most of what I read stated that for some reason children with autism also had issues with there intestines, and part of this was that there was measles virus in the intestinal tract of children with autism, and this wasn't found in children without autism. It is a well known fact that GI problems are common in children on the spectrum - my question after reading it was this, "Was this seen because there is some immunological component of autism that caused a weakened GI tract were the virus could grow." Either way - everyone says his study was a fraud and he had now lost his license (haven't read the specifics of it). Even after that, though, I had doubts about autism and vaccinations. My oldest child was autistic and he was born that way - a vaccination did not worse his autism - he was autistic in my womb (trust me - that child NEVER slept even inside of me!)
My time at the health department did make me question things though. I saw things that made me question the safety of vaccinations. Healthy children who had their first seizure the night of a vaccination. One child had his first stroke the night of his 12 month vaccination, and had his second stroke the night of his 15th month vaccination. All parents said, "the doctor said it wasn't the vaccination," but most of these parents weren't comfortable continuing to vaccinate after that. I came across parents who swore their child was developmentally normal, had a vaccination, and then weren't. There were enough of these things that I started to question that these vaccinations were 100% safe. No, there was no scientific evidence that what happened to these children was caused by the vaccination. Could that child have been meant to have his first stroke the night of those 12 month shots, maybe. Could that same child have been meant to have his second stroke the night of his 15 month shots - to me that seems highly unlikly. To me, and to most people who would look at these situations without a vested interested in either side, it would look like a basic cause/effect relationship - cause was vaccination and it caused a stroke/seizure. Thus, with my twins, my husband and I decided to vaccinate on an alternative schedule and only when they were very healthy.
That leads me to my beautiful little Lucy. My big blue eyed, curly haired, self confident Lucy. I was on high alert for autism in all my girls since we dealt with it for my oldest. Had the girls all tested three times. All three tests came back the same, developmentally normal. She was 4 years 11 months when everything changed. We had a parent teacher conference that morning, it was glowing. She was wonderful. Got along well with other kids. Funny. Bright. A joy to have in the class. That afternoon we had her last diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccination. She was fine for a couple of hours, but then we noticed she grumpy and wouldn't bend her arm (she had the shot in that arm). We looked at it and it was bright red and swollen to almost twice its size. That was when we noticed the hives. It was a few minutes later that the screaming started - and it didn't stop for three days. When the screaming stopped she was a different child. After many different doctors, and tests the diagnosis was that she had an immunological reaction to the vaccination that caused brain damage and this brain damage is what now causes autism and ADD/ADHD. She was fine the morning of, had the vaccination, and when she stopped reacting to the vaccination she wasn't. I don't need science to prove or disprove what we experienced in our home. The way her body reacted to that vaccination is what caused my child to develop autism and ADD/ADHD.
Since then I had to change doctors. Her primary pediatrician at that time (we moved to Florida 7 months before so he didn't follow us from birth), who saw her go from a normal potty trained almost 5 year old, to a wild, out of control, un-potty trained child who couldn't function stated that this reaction was Post traumatic stress disorder and I just needed to take her to counseling. There were trying to force me to continue vaccinations by stating they wouldn't sign the school waiver to allow her to go without being fully vaccinated. Even after the neurologist (who he sent us to) stated she had brain damage that was caused by an immunological reaction - he still refused to see it as anything more than PTSD. The therapist (again he sent us to), was the one who eventually started the ball rolling for the diagnosis of autism and add/adhd and said, "No, she does not have PTSD," couldn't even convince him that this was more than what he was thinking it was. "Just don't accept this behavior from her and discipline her more," was his response.
Thankfully in Florida I was able to go to the health department and sign a waiver that states it is against my religious belief to vaccinate my children.
Now there is this huge thing in the media about "everyone must be vaccinated or else". Boehner stated, "Yes, all children need to be vaccinated" (yep, because a politician does have the expertise to say that it is safe for my child to be vaccinated.) I have had friends and family members post things on f-book and say things about those "ignorant" people who don't vaccinate their children putting everyone in harms way. It is frustrating. Many of these people knew Lucy before and after the vaccination.
I still work at a health department and today this was this big bulletin board that said, "VACCINATIONS DON'T CAUSE AUTISM" in large letters. We listened to this woman talk about this for a portion of the meeting. She showed a video that talked about how people who thought vaccinations cause autism are ignorant. Vaccinations NEVER cause autism or developmental delays in anyone. Well, I got angry at this point. You can't make a statement like never when it comes to the human body - because anything is possible.
After the meeting I went up and spoke to her. I told her what happened to Lucy and that it is impossible to say "never" when you are dealing with something like this. This is how it went after I told her. "So she had an immunological reaction that caused the brain damage that caused the autism, right?" I said, "Yep." She said, "Well, that could have been anything that caused that reaction." I said, "It could have been anything, but it wasn't. She reacted to that vaccination. It was night and day. She was fine in the morning and that night she wasn't." She said, "Well, you don't know that it was the vaccination that was the trigger. I am so sorry this happened to your family, but you don't know it was the vaccination that caused this."
What else made her arm swell (the arm she had the injection in)? Was it the shirt that she had worn a dozen times before and a dozen times after? What else caused the hives? Tide? I used Tide her entire life. We didn't eat anything different that night than we normally eat, but somehow that caused it? What about the three days of screaming. Non-stop, scream until she fall asleep from exhaustion and then wake up and scream some more?
Then it hit me. . . . because that Wakefield study was discredited, and because other studies (mostly funded by the CDC and pharmaceutical companies who both have vested interests in the results being a certain way) do not show that vaccinations can cause autism/developmental delays then it must mean that no child can EVER have a reaction that causes the brain damage that causes autism/developmental delays. Doctors and the government can run with this. Here was this woman looking at me telling me that it was just pure coincidence that my child had an allergic like reaction that caused this - and that reaction (even though it started in the arm this was injected in) was not caused by the vaccination. It couldn't happen because the Wakefield study was wrong and no study proved it could happen. Even though when you go back to cause and effect, X happened and then Y happened - that X couldn't have caused it, because a study says it couldn't cause it.
Heck - there are billions of planets in the universe, but no study has ever come back that there is another planet with life on it, thus there can be no other planets out there with life on them, right? Or, depending on what you believe, there is no scientific evidence that there is a God out there so there must not be a God, right? Thus, because this one study was supposedly discredited, and these other studies don't show that it can happen - thus it proves it can NEVER happen.
This is what upsets me. Nothing is impossible, improbable maybe, but not impossible. If you give your child a vaccination does it mean they will get autism? No. Does every child with autism have a parent who can say it was caused by the vaccination? No (again - my oldest has autism and he was born this way). That being said, does that mean that every parent who says, "My child was normal until the vaccination" is lying? NO! The fact that a vast majority of the health care community refuses to admit that these reactions, how ever rare they may be, can happen scares the hell out of me.