Dear Mr. Lovett:
Prior to the addition of the Hepatitis B vaccine into the CDC’s Recommended Childhood Vaccination Schedule, chronic ear infections in infants and children were far less common. The Hepatitis B vaccine was added in 1989 and by 1990-91 it was widely used in the U.S. The hepatitis B series is initiated when an infant is less than 24 hours old. The CDC initially recommended the Hepatitis B vaccine only for newborns whose mothers tested positive for Hepatitis B. Presumably, this has something to do with the fact that a newborn’s immune system is not fully developed and vaccination with a virus at such a young age involves the risk of damaging that process. It would make sense not to vaccinate ALL children, but to only undertake that risk if there are circumstances (such as a hepatitis B positive mother) that warrant such protection. That was how it started. However, within a year or two, the CDC changed its recommendation and added the Hepatitis B vaccine to the childhood schedule, in effect mandating ALL children be vaccinated against this sexually transmitted disease. What we know now (thanks to recently published studies) is that even in cases where the mother is positive for Hep B, the vaccine does not appear to confer immunity for more than 2-5 years, and the incidence of autism among boys vaccinated with Hep B at birth increases three-fold over their unvaccinated peers. Ahhh…. Hindsight is 20/20, right?
My daughter was born in 1994 and was vaccinated according to the schedule. We were a military family at the time. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the military, but there is a pressure on parents to comply with military regulations, including the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule. In fact, did you know that the children of military parents are the most highly vaccinated children in the United States? “Coincidentally” (I just LOVE that word!), the incidence of autism among children of military parents is much higher than the rate of autism in the general population. (Now that IS an interesting coincidence!) In 2007, when the CDC announced that autism affected 1 in 150 U.S. children, the rate among children of military families was 1 in 82. (It must be something to do with stress, right? Children whose parents are deployed become so stressed out that they develop autism. Yeah. That must be it.)
Many military parents who are concerned about vaccines do not feel as if they CAN question or refuse vaccines. That was not the case with me. I didn’t question at all; at least not at first. I was concerned about my daughter, not only because I am a good parent and wanted what was best for her,but also because I wanted to do the right thing for other people’s children. I bought into the myth that Hepatitis B was something I needed to afraid of. I didn’t know any better. Now I do. I have researched Hepatitis B disease and I have researched the vaccine. I wish I had done it sooner. If I had, I would have most certainly been alerted that something was not right with the CDC’s recommendations, and I would have researched further before blindly allowing my daughter to be injected with other unnecessary and unsafe vaccines. You might say I’m a bit of a slow learner. However, you could also say that once I’ve learned my lesson, I don’t forget it. There are some lessons in life that are easier than others. The lessons that come with being the parent of a vaccine-injured child are by far the hardest I have ever had to learn. That’s because these lessons come directly as a result of my own mistakes. I know now that I should have researched first. I should have asked more questions. I should have said, “Wait. I don’t know enough about what’s in that needle you are about to stick into my child’s body. I need to learn a bit more before I sign that consent form.” If I had only known then even a tiny bit of what I know now, I never would have signed.
During our telephone conversations over the last few days you have mentioned several times that as we were talking, a crowd was gathering around your desk. You said others (presumably employees of the Courier & Press) were offering to give me advice about the safety of vaccines. Actually, I believe you said they were offering to help you in your attempts to convince me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I must admit, I’m a bit envious. I have been researching and learning about vaccines for many years and it’s a very tiring job. It has required that I take graduate level courses in research design and statistics, just so I can really understand and look critically at the studies that have been published in medical journals. Graduate school is grueling as I’m sure you may know. If you haven’t been to graduate school, let me tell you, it’s tough. It’s more than a full-time job. It’s even tougher when you have a sick child to care for. There’s a lot of homework to do and a ton of reading, research, and writing. There are also presentations at regional and national conferences, and award ceremonies to attend, when one is fortunate enough to be recognized by national associations for excellence in research and writing. It’s also tough financially. I was fortunate enough to have been awarded a graduate research scholarship and an assistantship, so I did have a job at the university and I didn’t have to pay tuition. However, the $4,000 stipend I was paid each year didn’t go far, especially when we had to pay out-of-pocket for most of my daughter’s medical care. You see, insurance covered the vaccines that made her sick, but it doesn’t cover the treatments that are necessary to reverse even a small part of the damage that was done to her immune system, neurological system, gastrointestinal system, circulatory system and excretory system. The nutritional supplements, organic foods, digestive enzymes, probiotics, chiropractic care, and multiple other therapeutic interventions have all been paid out-of-pocket. What I’m trying to say is, I’m SO JEALOUS of you! How fortunate you are to have an entire newsroom full of people at the ready to help you in your research! I feel so deprived. It’s always been just me here.
Here’s what I don’t understand… During our conversations over the last few days you have repeatedly stated that you do not intend now or in the future to publish anything regarding the safety (or rather the concerns about the safety) of vaccines. You made it very clear that as far as you are concerned, this issue is closed. You stated to me that the CDC has said vaccines are safe, and it appears clear to me that for you, that’s the end of it. That’s fine – if you are speaking as an individual, or as a parent who has made this decision for your own child. However, you are not just an individual and you are not just a parent. You are the Metro Editor of the only major newspaper in Evansville, Indiana. The population of Evansville is somewhere around 150,000. As Metro Editor, you have a lot of power. You also have a lot of people who are apparently willing to help you, and they are paid to do so. Yet, during our telephone conversations you stated to me that you did not have the manpower to research vaccine safety. You said that you had not looked into it yourself, admitting that you are merely following what the CDC says. You don’t have the manpower to research vaccine safety, yet you have a newsroom full of
people just dying to tell me what I don’t know about it? That’s confusing to me. Please help me here. You admit knowing nothing about it and not having the manpower to research this issue. How is it you have people standing by, chomping at the bit to educate me? Perhaps I’m missing something, but that just doesn’t make sense. It could just be me, though. Remember, I’m a slow learner.
I tell you what, Mr. Lovett – I really do want to alter the course of this path that you and I are now on. (And make no mistake – this is a path, and we are on it together. You’d better get used to me.) I’ll make you an offer. I will teach you what I know about vaccines. I will write for the Courier & Press and I will tell your readers everything they need to know in order to make informed decisions about the health of their children. And I’ll do it for free. There you go! Manpower problem solved! What do you think?
I realize you still don’t know me well and you have a lot riding on this decision. I will be happy to send you my vitae (that’s a fancy name for “resume” – it’s used when someone has attended graduate school, been published in professional journals, and presented their research at professional conferences), and references if you like. You can look me up in the Who’s Who Among American Students, or at the American Psychological Foundation’s database under Graduate Research Scholarship Awards (1997). You would have been able to find me in the registry of Who’s Who Among American Women, but at the time I was nominated my daughter was too sick and it didn’t seem worth it to spend the time filling out and returning the form. Some things are just more important than seeing one’s name in print.
If you decide not to take me up on my offer, I understand. Sometimes, when a line is drawn in the sand, it costs too much in the way of pride to bend down and erase it. Make no mistake, though, you will be hearing from me again… a lot.
I am the parent of a vaccine-injured child… and I am not going away.
Marcella Piper-Terry, M.S.