Vaccines and Autism/ The Vaccine Debate

I am so sorry about the parents who are afraid to have their children immunized for fear that the vaccine causes autism. I know their fear, although I had no fear when my son, Pervis Jr was vaccinated in 1976. He was developing , learning and growing until he got his vaccination. I was told that he might get sick for a few days, but it would pass. He did get sick and after that, things were never the same.

I want to add my voice to the conversation because I am on both sides of the debate. Yes, I believe that the vaccine was responsible for his condition, but no, I do not want the vaccines to stop. In my book, “Inspired By Autism” I mentioned that if we stop the vaccines, we would have a whole other problem, which we are beginning to see now with the measles outbreaks.

Those of us parents who feel that the vaccine was the cause feel that way because there was a sudden, drastic change in our child after the vaccination. We know that it changed our child. I have four children who were vaccinated, but Pervis Jr is the only one who is handicapped by autism, so I don’t feel that the vaccine is the only cause, but there is something that we can’t figure out.

The cause of autism is just as much a mystery today as it was in 1976 when Pervis Jr was diagnosed. One day I had a smiling happy son and in the next few days, he became unhappy, aggressive and started losing some of the gains he had been making, such as learning to talk and sleeping all night. Other parents of children with autism had the same experience.  We were devastated by this change in our child.

I have wrestled with the answer to the vaccine question for almost 40 years, but I still feel that it was the beginning of the end for my happy, healthy child. In the early 1980s , a reporter for one of our TV stations did a report about improper storing of the vaccine that was used in the state of Michigan in 1976. He said that some of the children who received vaccinations that year came down with handicapping conditions, including autism. I tried to follow up and talk to the reporter, but he was let go from the station and I could get no further information.

I am so sorry that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who wrote that there was a connection between the vaccines and autism lost his license. I am not sure that he deserved this because he was responding to many requests from parents to find out if there was a connection. Some of us parents  still feel that there is a connection, but stopping the immunizations is not the answer.

I am old enough to know how important immunizations have been in eradicating highly contagious diseases. Parents of younger children who don’t want them immunized don’t know the history of these diseases. My heart breaks for them because I understand their fear. I also understand the fear of parents who do get the immunizations for their children.

I have not read his book, but Dr. Bob Sears has written “The Vaccine Book”, in which he suggests delaying some of the vaccines and spreading them out. I saw Dr Sears being grilled by Chris Hayes on his TV show . I thought that Chris was too hard on him, because Dr Sears is trying to help with the solution.  I don’t know if this is the solution, but Dr Sears is not the first doctor to suggest this.  I don’t profess to have any answers.  I have been struggling with questions about this situation for almost 40 years.

Parents on both sides of the issue have the Desire to do the right thing for their child.  It is one of the most important decisions we have to make, not only for our own child, but for others. We want to do what is Right, but the condition of autism is still the mystery that it was in 1976 when my son was diagnosed, so there is no clear Right.

When you try to do right, you are doing your best.

May the Love of God enfold you; May the Power of God protect you.

Claudreen Jackson

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