With the number of Whooping Cough cases rising, particularly in California, many people are considering having the vaccine. There may even be some parents who previously had decided against this vaccine who are now considering having their child immunized against Whooping Cough. Additionally, there are articles being published on the Internet informing people that, since vaccines do not last forever, many people should be re-immunized. Before allowing your child to receive the Whooping Cough, or Pertussis, vaccine, please consider the following story so that you may keep your child as safe as possible if you do decide to go ahead with the immunization.
When my oldest daughter was five years old, all of her immunizations were up-to-date. She would soon be starting Kindergarten, which meant she was scheduled to receive her set of “Kindergarten booster shots”. One interesting aspect of this story is that when my daughter was only 2 months old, and I took her in for her very first set of shots, I inquired specifically about the Pertussis vaccine, commonly referred to as the DTP, because I had read some information regarding it that concerned me. As a very young, first-time mother, it didn’t take much before the nurse I was speaking with had me so frightened that my baby would drop dead without the vaccine, that I quickly complied.
At that time, the only change in my daughter seemed to be her lack of physical development. She went from seeming very sturdy and strong, to being kind of limp and wiry. Her weight gain slowed tremendously after the first set of vaccines that she received. Now, obviously, I have no way of knowing for certain if the vaccines had anything to do with that, however the timing does seem questionable. And I did not suspect the vaccines at the time.
However, when my daughter was five years old, and needed her Kindergarten boosters, we made an appointment to have them done. My close friend, whose son had grown up with my daughter and would be attending the same Kindergarten class, joined us and we made a little bit of a day out of it; taking the kids together for some fun around town, and then taking them together for their Kindergarten boosters. It just seemed like one more milestone of many that our children would share throughout their lives.
As we had recently moved, I had not yet chosen a new pediatrician, and since vaccines are treated as quite a run-of-the-mill operation, I agreed to take my daughter to the same medical office that my friend had taken her son to for previous immunization shots. This turned out to be more of a clinic-type atmosphere, which I didn’t feel very comfortable with. But we were already there, and my friend had brought her son to the same location previously without any problems. This, combined with the fact that school would be starting the following week and my daughter was already mentally prepared for the fact that she was going to receive shots that day, I went ahead and stayed. It’s a decision I’ve regretted a thousand times over.
It should be stated here that the DTP vaccine has been written about, in a negative light, for decades. I cannot personally direct readers towards any specific literature, however I do know that I read an article in a natural parenting magazine in 1992 (the original reason I asked the nurse about the vaccine when my daughter was just 2 months old). I did not have access to the Internet when my daughter was 5 years old, although after her Kindergarten boosters, I did find a book at the library, which if I remember correctly, had a copyright date from the 1960’s, which stated that the DTP vaccine was associated with muscle problems, among other things. Some information blames the fact that the Pertussis element of the vaccine is the culprit, other information seems to point the finger at the fact that it is a combination vaccine, and still others document the fact that the vaccine can be dangerous if administered incorrectly. This last scenario is the one that would ultimately affect my daughter.
When my daughter was about to receive her injections that day, when she was five, she received her first injection (not the DTP) in her arm. After that, she became quite hysterical, and the nurses in attendance decided it would make more sense to hold her down and give her the next injection in her leg, because it would hurt less. Obviously, it was a stressful situation, but I believed she needed the immunizations for school, and she was already upset, so the most logical thing to do seemed to be to go ahead and let them finish so that we could be done with it all. And that’s what we did.
Less than 24 hours later, my daughter began to have significant problems with her legs. As she was coming down a slide at the beach, she slid off the end onto her feet, and screamed in agony. As I watched her come off the slide, I could hardly believe my eyes. Her legs seemed to bend backward at the knees as though she could not “lock” her knees the way we all do under normal circumstances. It was the most sickening thing I’d ever personally seen, and obviously my husband I knew right away that something was very wrong. My husband scooped up our daughter, as she continued to scream and cry in pain.
Following that incident, we visited several doctors over the span of about 3 months. The problem with her knees wasn’t constant, but it did affect the way she walked, and she still had pain. And at times, her knees would again do that bending-backward thing. I repeatedly asked the doctors we were seeing if it could have anything at all to do with the vaccinations she had received about 16 hours before the problem first presented. None of them bothered to ask me any questions about the day she had received that set of shots, and all would immediately shake their heads and assume a very condescending tone of voice before insisting that it could have nothing to do whatsoever with the immunizations.
Until one day, we were again at a doctor’s office, still trying to find answers as to what was happening to my daughter’s legs. At first, two doctors entered our exam room, and one of them gave me the same spiel and attitude that previous doctors had given, in regards to the vaccines. However, a few seconds after they left, the other doctor came back in. In a hushed voice, she asked me some specifics about the day my daughter had received her last set of shots. She asked specifically about the DTP vaccine. When I described what happened that day, and how the nurses had administered the DTP in my daughter’s leg, the doctor’s face literally drained of color. Her eyes grew big, and she actually whispered, “Oh my God”.
By that time, I was understandably alarmed, and asked her over and over, “What? What? What’s going to happen to her?” The doctor quickly assured me that we had seen the worst of what would occur. I asked, “How do you know?” She answered, “Because she wouldn’t be able to walk, otherwise”. I was shocked. The doctor went on to explain that the DTP vaccine should never, under any circumstance, be administered in the legs of a child who can already walk. She said we were very lucky that she had not been permanently, irreparably, paralyzed in both legs. She then informed me that no doctor will acknowledge that my daughter’s injuries were caused by vaccines. Her hushed tone and choice of words quickly conveyed to us that she felt she had to hide what she was telling us from the rest of the staff in the office, but that she was telling us because she felt we had the right to know. The doctor then quietly slipped out of the room, as though this were all some crazy secret. We did visit subsequent doctors, who all vehemently denied that a doctor would have ever told me that a vaccine had injured my child, and treated my family as though we were liars.
My daughter is 18 now. She has always continued to have issues with the muscles in her legs. She continued to have pain in her ankles and knees for several years. Since that day when she was five, she has never been able to run normally, the way she did before she received that DTP injection in her leg. Her legs still hurt and ache, and I feel the injury has definitely affected her quality of life.
So for those parents who are rushing in to get their children up-to-date on their Whooping Cough vaccine due to the current outbreak, please remember our story. Ask questions, read all the literature you can find, and don’t allow anyone to administer this vaccine in the legs of any child of yours who is already walking. I know we all want to be able to trust that those in the medical profession are competent. But clearly, that’s not always the case.