Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fizzle in the Autism Vaccine Litigation - The End

(I apologize for the posts being out of order. Blogger was not cooperating. You can read parts one and two below. This is the final installment of the three part series on the vaccine litigation.)

Here are the vaccine facts.

Joey received:

12/10/98 Hepatitis B

01/05/99 Hepatitis B

02/11/99 DTaP/DTP/DT; Hib; Polio

04/27/99 DTap/DTP/DT; Hib; Polio

06/09/99 Hepatitis B; DTaP/DTP/DT; Hib

(That's 11 vaccinations containing thimerosol in his first six months, if you're keeping track. If you remember, the Merck internal memorandum said that 8 thimerosol containing vaccines within the first six months of life would put 87 times the Swedish daily allowance of mercury for a baby weighing 12 pounds.)

02/08/00 Chicken Pox (Varicella), MMR
05/17/00 DTaP/DTP/DT; Hib; Polio
01/03/03 DTaP/DTP/DT; Polio; MMR
10/03/09 Influenza
07/31/09 Tdap

21 vaccinations by the age of 11. The only one that was optional was the influenza vaccine in 2009. For those of you who don't already know, the flu shot they offer still contains thimerosol. Being aware of this, the 09 flu vaccine Joey received was the flu mist, which does not contain thimerosol. By this time, I was so leery of putting any more vaccinations into my youngest son's body that I turned down every optional vaccine I was offered. I had to have the Tdap done in order for him to be able to attend middle school. Now we are done with the federally mandated vaccines he must receive for him to go to school. If I said I wasn't relieved, I would be lying.

Another tidbit of information. Thimerosol was ordered to be removed from all childhood vaccines by 1998. However, supplies of the preservative containing vaccines were sitting on the doctors' shelves and continued to be used until 2000. So, any vaccines your child received prior to 2000 most likely contained thimerosol. It has been removed and is no longer used today. So, if you had worries about the mercury preservative, as long as you don't have the flu shot given to your child, he or she will not have thimerosol injected into their bodies. If you want to have them vaccinated against the flu, I highly recommend you have the flu mist, which does not contain the mercury preservative and is a safe alternative.

So, the story has ended. Except that it hasn't. My son still has autism and we still do not know what caused it and whether the drug companies are at fault. We will probably never know. All we can do now is work with Joey on a day to day basis, in conjunction with an absolutely fantastic team of teachers and autism specialists through our local school system. Joey has thrived in this environment. He is mainstreamed (with a co-teacher in his core classes for extra help with focus) into seventh grade, he is in the advanced math class (having gotten a perfect score on his standardized math test last year), and he is on the honor roll. His teachers love him. The other kids seem to love him. And bullying, so far, has not been an issue. Because of the heightened awareness of what autism is in the school system, I am hopeful that the other students will continue to be understanding of Joey's "quirks." And I have nothing but hope that he will go to college and become a successful, independent adult. Or he may live with us, continuing to need assistance with daily living skills. Either way, I am fine with who he is and love him more than life itself.

I didn't want to really end the story here. Below are the last pieces of correspondence between me and the law firm in Kentucky who handled our case. I have left out the names of the attorneys out of respect for their privacy.

Excerpt from my email to attorney upon receiving attorneys' fee check for endorsement:

"It's amazing how the government works, isn't it? Amazingly awful. They need to do the research and present TRUE findings so that we can make our own decisions on the vaccination issue...

...The problem I  have with the whole thing is that the government forces us to inject our children with multiple vaccines or they are not allowed into the public schools. Then, if there is an injury, they have a kangaroo court made up of their own medical experts, paid for by the big pharmaceutical companies who profit from adding vaccine after vaccine. I have turned down every one that I possibly could that was not required by law and was very concerned about the DTaP I had to get for Joey before he could go into middle school, not knowing if the vaccines are safe or not...

The doctors always got very defensive when I would ask questions and swore that the vaccines are safe. I think there's a lot of evidence out there that for some children, they aren't safe, but it's getting buried."

And then I received this incredibly kind, handwritten letter from the managing partner of the law firm.

"Dear Chelle,

I wanted to respond to your heartfelt letter and let you know that I share your pain and frustration. I have a twenty year old daughter who is autistic and there is no question - to me - that her vaccines caused her autism. As you indicated, we have proof that the link to thimerosol was covered up. We just never could get a judge to agree.

As I am sure you can imagine, our firm has spent a much greater amount of time and resources on Joey's claim than the $2,000 we were finally awarded. This is also true for the few other cases we have handled. I can't comment on the bigger firms and bigger amounts of cases, but my guess is that the same is true for them. I just don't know.

On a personal level I, like you, have spent the last 18 years of my life trying to get answers. I am always glad to see a fellow parent keeping that conversation alive!"

And then I knew exactly why they took our case.

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