I am a parent who has made the decision not to vaccinate. This wasn’t always the case.
Initially I was like most parents. I believed in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. This belief was not based on any personal research I did. Rather, I allowed others to make this life–altering decision for me.
My Son Joshua
My son Joshua was born in July 1984. His birth was unremarkable save he was three weeks overdue. He weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz. and scored 9 on the [End Page 168] Apgar scale. He was a healthy and content baby. He suckled easily and was exclusively breastfed for the first six months. His mother and I remarked on how easy a baby Josh was. We felt very fortunate to have such a healthy baby.
At four months of age we dutifully took Joshua to the Doctor for his first DPT shot. Immediately following the shot Josh became agitated. The Doctor assured us that some agitation is normal. The agitation persisted. Something was not right with our once content and happy child.
Twice in the next two weeks we returned to the Doctor to have him examine our son. We were again assured there was nothing to worry about. In spite of the assurances offered by the Doctor it was evident to his mother and me that the son we brought home from the Doctor’s office following the vaccination was not the same son we brought to the Doctor’s office.
Day twenty–one following the DPT shot Josh had a seizure. It was a tonic seizure, which is characterized by stiffness and loss of consciousness that lasted approximately twenty–five minutes. Uncertain what was happening, we rushed him to the local hospital. Josh was prescribed anti–seizure medication and after an overnight stay he was discharged.
We were advised it was likely a febrile seizure. It was nothing to be concerned about. This sometimes happens following a vaccination. The anti–seizure medication was simply a precaution.
Approximately one month later Josh had a second seizure. This was a more aggressive seizure showing tonic–clonic characteristics or a grand mal seizure, which is where a person goes into spasm and it takes longer for a person to recover from. The seizure lasted approximately twenty minutes. An ambulance was called and we returned to the same hospital. More tests, blood work, and scans were administered to identify the cause of the seizures. All results came back normal.
As a precaution more anti–seizure medication was prescribed. The Doctor, in his desire to be helpful, advised—“Treat your son as a normal child and everything will be fine.” Unfortunately everything wasn’t fine. One month later Josh seized again.
Josh continued to seize approximately every thirty days. Each seizure was fifteen to twenty minutes long. Eventually the Doctors at the local hospital advised us that Josh’s condition was too complicated for their level of expertise. We were referred for more specialized care at the Children’s Hospital in the area. Once there, the team of neurologists plied their skills and offered their remedies.
Over the next four years Josh was prescribed numerous medications and combinations of medications, steroids, a maintenance dose of antibiotics, and even experimental drugs. Nothing worked.
In spite of their best efforts Josh’s condition deteriorated. The space between the seizures got shorter and shorter. By the time Josh was four years old he was seizing twelve to fifteen times per day with each seizure lasting fifteen to twenty minutes. In one three month period we called an ambulance more than thirty times. Over this period Josh lost most of the developmental gains he had made including walking and talking.
When Josh was five years old the Chief Neurologist took me aside. In a somber tone he advised me not to bring my son back to the hospital. There was nothing else they could do, he confided.
Many times during my consultations with the Doctors and specialists I put forward the idea that my son was adversely affected by his DPT shot. I explained that he became agitated following the...