Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vaccine

On Day 22 of the A - Z Challenge, V is for Vaccine

Vaccines are a hot topic for debate.  On the one hand, vaccines have eradicated many once deadly diseases.  They protect us from other debilitating diseases.  But ongoing questions remain as to the safety of vaccines, especially in relation to autism.  

The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics assure us over and over that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism.  Furthermore, a formerly well respected doctor was caught falsifying data which claimed there was a vaccine-autism link.  In spite of all this, many parents continue to insist that vaccines caused their childens' autism.

In 2000, I read an article in the American Bar Association magazine regarding the increase of autism from 1 in 10,000 20 years prior to 1 in 150.  The culprit, some believed was thimerosal, a mercury additive that was used to stabilize multi-dose vaccines.  My husband and I did further reading on the subject and decided to err on the side of caution and not allow our baby to receive vaccines with thimerosal.  

I followed all the recommendations when pregnant regarding staying away from fish containing mercury, exercised and followed a very healthy diet.  When my son was born, we read all the inserts in the vaccines and if there was even a trace amount of thimerosal in a particular vaccine, we obtained a prescription from our pediatrician and procured the vaccine from another pharmaceutical company that did not contain thimerosal.  We fully vaccinated my son.

When pregnant with Michael, we took the same precautions.  He was a difficult baby.  I was up at all hours with him while David was the calm angelic type, but he had a few quirks.  One thing we noticed was he would balance a ring from his toy on his finger and watch it go back and forth.  But we dismissed any question of autism as I fully believed thimerosal was responsible for the increase in autism but neither of my sons received any vaccine with thimerosal.  

Let me say for the record that I fully believe with 100% certainty that my sons' autism was directly caused by thimerosal in vaccines.  You may wonder "How is that possible if you didn't give them any vaccines with thimerosal?"

One night, Michael wouldn't sleep and we were flipping through the TV channels.  We came across C-Span where they were repeating a Congressional Hearing called Vaccines and Autism.  As we watched, one of the doctors testifying  stated thimerosal was also in the Rho-GAM shots given to pregnant women at 28 weeks if they had a negative blood type.  It was also given if there was any bleeding during pregnancy or if an amniocentesis was done.   I could feel the blood drain from my face.  My blood type is O-. I had early bleeding with Michael, so during my pregnancy with him, I received 2 RhoGAM shots, one early on for the bleeding and the "routine" one at 28 weeks. 

David is more on the mild side of the spectrum while Michael is more moderate. I had 2 shots with Michael and only 1 with David.  I never took a flu shot while pregnant as I knew they had high levels of thimerosal.  When I spoke with the Brown doctor who was researching the MMR/autism link (back in my M is for Measles post), I told him about the RhoGAM.  He said, "you're wrong. Thimerosal was taken out of RhoGAM in 2001."  But 10 minutes later he phoned back and said, "Oh my God, you were right.  There was a 2 year shelf life on the RhoGAM and you did have the shots with thimerosal."

As I am writing this, I am crying.  I put so much effort in researching the thimerosal/autism link with childhood vaccines, how could I have missed this?  I have never been able to forgive myself for not even considering thimerosal could have been in the RhoGAM.  I would have absolutely refused the shot.  When my daughter was born, the RhoGAM shot was given within 72 hours of delivery.  I would have insisted on that protocol, or I would have sought out a thimerosal free shot.  When I started researching RhoGAM after the fact, I found an interesting statistic.  I don't know if the numbers have changed but 11 years ago there was a study that said 15% of the entire population is RH- (negative blood type).  But at that time 50% of autistic children had mothers that were RH-.

The CDC and other doctors claim autism has risen because of environmental issues, genetic tendencies and better diagnosis.  In 2000, autism was 1 in 150. Now, in 2015, it is 1 in 68.  I am no rocket scientist, but I don't buy it.  It is too much of a jump in only a 15 year time-frame.  There may be some part of genetics playing a role but I believe the thimerosal is the trigger.  

I believe in vaccines.  I do not believe in thimerosal.  In single dose vaccines, the addition of thimerosal is not necessary except to pad the pockets of the thimerosal manufacturers.  For every company that uses thimerosal in it's vaccine, there is another that doesn't.  There have been no comprehensive studies on either side that have or haven't proved the thimerosal/autism link conclusively, just the reviews of old studies and new limited studies.  When they 'researched' the effects of giving 2 flu shots in 2009 when the H1N1 strain came out, I read the control group was a group of 11 people.  Are you kidding me?  

Since 2009 when both regular flu shots AND H1N1 flu shots were given to babies and pregnant women, autism numbers increased from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68.  My sons have egg allergies and do not get flu shots. Flu shots are manufactured in single dose and multi-dose vials.  Multi-dose vaccines need a preservative. So maybe it's time to eliminate the multi-dose vials.

We are fortunate. David and Michael are autistic but don't have some of the severe issues that others are dealing with. I am confident this is due to our insistence in ensuring that they didn't get childhood vaccines with thimerosal.  I truly believe their autism would have been much more severe had we not been diligent with their vaccines.  

Back in 2000, the CDC said that thimerosal was taken out of vaccines.  That was an outright lie.  Vaccine manufacturers had cut back on thimerosal but in many cases use a trace amount.  The Bush Administration granted pharmaceutical companies the ability to claim vaccines were thimerosal-free even if they contained a trace amount of thimerosal.  Even if claimed 'thimerosal-free', the package insert would still list thimerosal.  Also, since the number of vaccines have increased, how many trace amounts may cause an issue?  Each person processes mercury differently so 10 shots with 10 'trace' amounts may affect a number of children differently, therefore the 'spectrum'.  In addition, the flu shot does not contain a 'trace' amount of thimerosal but up to 50 micrograms of thimerosal.  So given the increased number of vaccines, some containing the trace amount of thimerosal and the flu shots which have more than a trace amount, the 'reduction' of thimerosal which the CDC claims in vaccines is really an oxymoron.  

The Vaccine and Autism Congressional hearing we watched also contained testimony from a respected research doctor at Baylor College of Medicine who said when adult brain cells were brought in contact with thimerosal, they sent off some type of shoots to 'get away' from the thimerosal.  He said he wanted to continue his research as he was seeing the same patterns in both autism and alzheimer's brains.  Given the number of elderly getting flu shots every year, I found this comparison interesting.  

In addition, the Homeland Security bill passed after 9-11 had a provision snuck in last minute which prevented pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits for thimerosal harm.  So if thimerosal is so safe and not an issue, why was this provision snuck in, in the eleventh hour of the Homeland Security Bill?  

My question however is this?  Since thimerosal is not a necessary component of single dose vaccines and does not affect the efficacy of the vaccines, why not actually take ALL of the thimerosal out of those vaccines, and see where the statistics go?  

This post was written based on my own opinions and is based on my own research over the past 13 years.  I am not a medical doctor and I realize not everyone shares my beliefs.  


  1. OMG. My mouth is dropping and I have shivers down my spine. Where I live, parents are very concerned about vaccines as well. It's not the entire island, but the little subsection where I live. Your doctor was honest in confessing his mistake with the vaccine and not all doctors would be. He did not wave your concerns off but researched it when you confronted him.

    I think I also agree with you about genetics. Genetics may predispose us to certain illnesses but they are triggered by environmental factors.

    This was the most interesting post you've written so far, and I'm sharing it on Facebook.

    Maui Jungalow

    1. Hi Courtney - thank you for your comments - just to clarify - I had been at my own dermatologist who gave me the name and number of a doctor that was a researcher at Brown University. He was researching the MMR vaccine (my M post for the A-Z Challenge) and believed his own grandson was harmed. He recommended splitting the shots. In our conversation I mentioned the RhoGAM and the rest followed. He and I had no doctor/patient affiliation. This post is much abbreviated. I spent years of research once my boys were diagnosed. There is so much money from big pharma and I truly believe they don't want to try and resolve this. What would happen if thimerosal was totally eliminated from vaccines and the autism numbers went down? Tobacco and Agent Orange all over again and they would be liable for millions of lawsuits. While it's great that organizations try to 'treat' autism, I wish there was more of a push to eliminate it. The rate of autism is at epidemic proportions. And what happens when these kids get older and their parents die. Who will take care of them. My W post on Monday for the A-Z challenge. - thanks for stopping by and thanks for sharing. xoxo

    2. Medicine is a huge industry and I'm reading stuff about cancer which makes my skin crawl. Also, wanted to let you know I shared your post in a comment on another A to Z blog: So feel free to stop by there as well.

    3. Hi Courtney - thanks - I went over there, looks like she took the comment off - no worries, not everyone shares my opinions. xoxo

  2. What a story, I wish I could hug you. My son was born with very severe food allergies and as such was given a medical exemption from the MMR vaccine. This was not automatic, there were numerous discussions in which doctors actually said "If he stops breathing we will revive him" .... Can you imagine? Anyhow he is now 16 and we feel that he should get the shots as his allergies are far less life threatening than they were in the past, he still carries and Epi Pen but he is not at all as allergic as he was...Well now the doctors are ot offering him the vaccine... which has us wondering? We love to travel and we have family in Mexico where we need to go at least once a year (My parents are very elderly) .... REALLY makes us wonder... You are an amazing parent and you did your best with all the information that you had,. You are so brave to put this out there, Ishare on FB and tweeted, Google PLUS in the hope that it can perhaps help people out there .

    1. Thanks for stopping by, commenting and sharing Maria - good luck with your son's shot should you decide to get it for him. Wonder if splitting it may be an option for you, if that would make it less likely for an allergic reaction? We avoid the flu shots because of the egg allergies. Should we get a particularly bad flu season, we would have to get in the doctor's office and wait to see if there is a reaction. So far we've managed to avoid the shots and the flu! - xoxo

  3. This was an excellent post Judi, and I take my hat off to your and your husband for all the work you do everyday,and that you have done in this field! I am going to repost this also, the infomation needs to be distributed far and wide! Thanks for writing it!

    1. Hi Helen - thanks for your comment and for sharing. I appreciate your support! xoxo

  4. Big hugs to you and permission from a stranger to forgive yourself. As parents we do the best we can, and you have even gone beyond this. Vaccines are such a controversial issue. We made a choice that made us unpopular with a lot of people, but, like you, I did what I believed at the time was the best thing. Hind sight is always 20/20. I commend and respect you for having the strength to share your story.

    1. Hi Rhonda - thank you for stopping by and reading. You are so right, hind sight IS 20/20. It is what it is and we keep pushing forward! Thanks for your kind comment. xoxo