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Vaccine Injuries: How to recognize them and what to do about them

The topic of vaccines can make or break a conversation.  People tend to be either adamantly for them or vehemently against them.  While legislation forcing vaccinations exists in certain states, getting a vaccine usually comes down to personal choice.  For those who choose to vaccinate, learning as much as they can about vaccines is important. Here is some information not typically talked about in the exam room but can be useful to know should one be contemplating vaccines.
Vaccines are termed as unavoidably unsafe in the National Child Vaccine Injury Act. Heavily pushed on the pediatric population starting at birth, vaccines are approved by federal agencies and sold by pharmaceutical companies. Those companies, exempt from liability, cannot be sued should their vaccines cause injury or death.
The National Child Vaccine Injury Act, which was passed in 1986, also saw the creation of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), a program that has distributed almost $3 billion to those who have suffered injuries and death from vaccinations.  Funding for the awards come from a $0.75 excise tax collected from vaccines given to children that the Center for Disease Control recommends.

Vaccine Ingredients
As parents begin to gather information about vaccines, other factors should be taken into account such as the family’s medical history. This includes knowing if any relatives had a vaccine injury and if anyone suffers from autoimmune disorders. Reviewing current medical conditions is also important. How they’re being treated, or how they impact the immune system, may play a role in how the body responds to a vaccine. Include current scientific evidence in your research as well as anecdotal stories being reported. Keep in mind that vaccine studies are inadequate in number.
It’s possible to research not just the vaccine being recommended but its ingredients as well. Being aware of what is being injected into the body, especially if one of the ingredients is a known allergen, can aide parents in the decision to vaccinate or not. Gelatin, lactose, polysorbate 80, aluminum hydroxide, sodium phosphate, thimerosal, human diploid cells, animal DNA, egg protein, and yeast protein are only a few of the ingredients used to create a vaccine. These, as well as other ingredients, can be looked up on the vaccine manufacturer’s website.

Signs of Vaccine Injury
Vaccine reactions can happen to anyone. Be it the initial vaccine, a follow-up vaccine in a series, or a booster shot, vaccine reactions can happen to anyone and at any age. Learning what reactions are and how to recognize them will help when it comes time to treat a reaction and to later report it.
Vaccine reactions and injury can happen immediately after the vaccine has been administered, and they can take weeks, months and years to develop. The two-page Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS) that the doctor is required to give a patient prior to a vaccination will offer some information on reactions and adverse events. Reading the vaccine package insert will offer much more information. Package inserts can be easily searched and downloaded from the internet.
Mild, moderate, and severe reactions have been documented for all vaccines. Reactions can include, but are not limited to:  swelling at injection site, rash, fatigue, headache, nausea, and chills. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), fever, seizures, autism, and Guillaine-Barre Syndrome are listed as well.
Other reactions include brain swelling, shock, anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest, ataxia, drowsiness, insomnia and narcolepsy, myalgia, arthralgia, urticarial, edema, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea, paralysis, infertility, and death.
If a reaction from a vaccine does occur, it’s recommended to seek medical attention immediately. Once the vaccine reaction has been treated, it’s important to document it as soon as possible.
Holistic Parenting Magazine2When Vaccines Fail
Any vaccine that causes a reaction, even a minor one, can and should be documented in the person’s medical file. Not only that, these adverse events must be reported by the doctor to the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a government-run database of documented vaccine injuries and can be accessed by the public. Having the adverse event documented will help if one wishes to pursue a vaccine injury claim.
Filing the claim with VICP in a timely manner and having the appropriate medical documentation is a key, but it’s not a guarantee that the claim will result in an award for the injury.  Information on which Table Injuries are recognized by “Vaccine Court” are listed on the VICP website (under the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services site) as are the steps to file a claim.
Knowledge is Power
Maternal instinct plays a major role in many choices mothers make for their children. This includes making a decision about vaccines. For the most part, parents can still choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate. Some of society may deem vaccines the best and the only choice to prevent disease, but as has been proven by the many people who have been injured and who have died from vaccines, we know vaccines are not 100% safe and effective.
So, what can one do to prevent vaccine injury?

  • First, avoid vaccines.
  • Second, seek vaccine exemptions. If that is not possible, limit which vaccines you get and opt to space vaccines out over a stretch of time.
  • Keep in mind that in most of the U.S., the vaccines on the childhood schedule are merely recommended. This means that vaccines are not required.  This is true even to enter public school—children can receive an education without being vaccinated.

As the parent of a vaccine injured child, whose injury has lasted almost a decade, I learned the hard way that vaccines can do more harm than good. Ronan’s vaccines never gave him any immunity and brought more negative effects than positive ones. Because I learned too little too late, today I encourage parents to learn as much as they can about vaccines. Take the time to read, research, and review all the facts about them. And remember, you can choose to not vaccinate, but you can never choose to unvaccinate.

Author: Cathy Jameson
Cathy Jameson, also known as Mamacita from The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, is a dual-certified teacher with ten years’ experience in early and elementary education. Having stepped away from the classroom to raise her five children, Cathy is now a full-time mother, advocate, and writer. When her son Ronan started to show signs of developmental delays, Cathy embarked on a mission to find answers, help and healing – a mission she continues to this day. She now writes regularly about Ronan, vaccine injury, special education, and parenting a special needs child with typical siblings. She writes with the hope that sharing her experiences might help other families in similar situations. Cathy is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism and has had her work featured in The Autism File Magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Holistic Parenting Magazine and on She is Co-Founder of The Thinking Moms’ Revolution and has a chapter in TMR’s book, Autism Beyond the Spectrum.