This is a reply to a recent letter from a chiropractor wherein he gives incorrect information about childhood vaccines. There is no such thing as "6,000 infants die each year from vaccines." A decade ago, the government replaced the very effective oral polio vaccine with the present injected vaccine because fewer than five people a year got polio from the oral live vaccine because they had a genetic immune defect. Does anybody think our immunization system would tolerate any vaccination that killed 6,000 children, when it changed a vaccination that harmed fewer than six?
As for the vaccine compensation program, it is up to a parent or patient to seek compensation for an alleged injury. The parent or person still is free to file a civil lawsuit against the company, but if they lose in that court, they cannot then try to seek money from the compensation fund.
My own son had HIB (type B haemophilus influenza) disease as an infant, and I grew up in the early 1950s when polio did strike children and adults. I recall when my mother pulled me out of school, as other mothers did with their children, when there was even a rumor of a polio case in my school. I have seen deaths from every one of the diseases prevented or made less serious by protective immunization, excepting diphtheria.
I have seen situations such as that of the boy with rotavirus whose fever at admission to the hospital was 109 degrees, and while he lived, it had already destroyed his brain. Or the toddler who died in shock from rotavirus diarrhea, now made much less severe by the rotavirus vaccine.
Never miss a local story.
An agonizing death
Or the countless cases of bacterial meningitis. I have diagnosed and cared for over a hundred cases before the HIB and pneumococcal (Prevnar) immunizations were available. Nearly 100 percent of them ended up with some permanent disability, not to mention the many that suffered an agonizing death. Just watch when, on the third day of their shock and brain infection, the mother gently wipes her child's face, and it literally wipes right off in her hands, and she collapses. I have watched the tears of loving parents as their child's shock and seizures progressed to a terminal outcome. Or the survivors who are deaf, or who lose hands and feet or worse, or are eventually sent to a life care facility where they wait for pneumonia or aspiration to take them, leaving their parents to grieve for the child who never grew up.
Or the three children whom I have cared for who died of whooping cough, or the youngster who coughed so much she bled her retinas, and will live blind for the rest of her life.
Or the teenager whose parents refused the measles vaccine, then had to watch him convulse with measles encephalitis until death mercifully ended his suffering.
Or caring for severely retarded children afflicted because their mothers had rubella when they were pregnant with the child.
Or the children who get so many infected chicken pox that they are thereafter left to live life with pockmarked scars all over their pretty faces. Or the young mother who had just delivered a baby when she came down with chicken pox, and both she and her newborn died of the disease. For this disease we thankfully have the Varivax.
Or the teens and adults who contract hepatitis B and live a life of illness, and ultimately die of the disease.
Or the five children I cared for who died of massive liver failure from Hepatitis A.
Or the infant I carried into the hospital, who was so far into shock from meningococcus sepsis (Menactra vaccine) that we could not get her heart to beat any longer.
Or the tetanus deaths I have seen in other countries, victims whose muscles contract so much that they arch their backs to the point of breaking their bones. There is a reason the disease is also known as "lockjaw."
Or the sterility from the severe inflammation of males with testicular mumps, swollen as large as grapefruit, with pain to match.
I have never seen diphtheria, but my father had it. Diphtheria was a huge killer of children and young adults in this country. It would slay all the children in a family in 48 hours because of the cardiac toxicity of the diphtheria bacteria.
Children do cry with shots, and sometimes they run a fever. But comforting a fussy child is infinitely better than their dying in septic shock from an otherwise largely preventable disease.
Those who are too young to have seen all these things and even more simply have no experience or perspective to discourage parents from vaccinating for diseases that are prevented or reduced in severity by immunization. These diseases are lurking in our society, and they will come back for your child with a ruthless vengeance.
Having provided pediatric care for over 33 years, I dread with horror seeing diseases largely eliminated in American society return because of misinformation from ill-informed experts.
This weekly column features opposing views from readers. These opinions are contrary to those expressed on this page or which otherwise take issue with something that appears in The Herald. All commentaries submitted become the property of The Herald and may be republished in any format.