My name is Alison MacNeil. My son Nick became Autistic following his 15 month shots in 2006.
This is a segment on Nick’s vaccine injury in a PBS Autism documentary I put together with my father, Robert MacNeil formerly of the NewsHour, three years ago.
After a healthy pregnancy Nick was born one month early by C-section at Beth Israel Deaconness Hospital in Boston, MA 11/12/04. He was in the Nicu for 12 hours for observation. He received oxygen for 30 minutes on a C-pap machine and two anti-biotics by IV, in the chance my early labor had been caused by Sepsis. It had not. He was born 6 lbs 9 oz and his Apgar scores were good.
Within 30 minutes of being brought to me from the Nicu he was given the Hep B vaccine. We were discharged together four days later. Nick latched and nursed beautifully. He was a well-regulated and happy baby. He slept well and delighted in watching his sister. He flirted with everybody over my shoulder and was meeting milestones beautifully.
We vaccinated Nick exactly according to schedule as we had his older sister.
Between eight and nine months Nick began talking. He also received 2 infant flu shots at one month apart and another Hep B shot. Looking back at photographs I can see that this was when the lights began to dim. He lost his smile and began to have back to back upper respiratory infections. At his first birthday I noticed he still had the first three words but he wasn’t gaining new ones. Between 12-15 months he had several bad upper respiratory colds. We gave him Tylenol quite a bit more than I had needed to with my daughter.
At Nick’s 15 month appointment the Nurse Practitioner commented at what a busy, happy baby he was, noting in the chart that he was on track for all of his milestones. She then gave him the DTtaP, MMR and a version of the Hib called the TriHib.
Within three days Nick developed an extremely bad cold with a croupy cough with a whoop to it. He had a high fever, was lethargic and very, very irritable. Around the tenth day he was inconsolable and I couldn’t put him down, he screamed constantly, tugged at his ears and coughed incessantly. I was alarmed. That night he finally fell asleep and so did I around 10pm. At 11pm our German Shepherd woke me up because he was scratching at Nick’s door whining and barking. I went to scold the dog and checked on Nick whose lips had turned blue and he was struggling to breath. I wrapped him in his father’s down jacket next to the door and raced one block on foot to the community hospital near our house.
They gave him a shot of Decadron almost immediately after we arrived and put him on back to back nebulizers. They discharged us around 3am and had put him on an anti-biotic. They told me he needed to be seen by a pediatrician the next day outpatient. It was Sunday so I was sent to the on-call of our practice which happened to be a very prominent retired pediatrician in Boston who only did weekend, on-call coverage. He examined Nick and said, “you do realize you have a very sick boy here.” He told me Nick had a double ear infections and Bronchitis.
I gave Nick the antibiotic as prescribed, but Nick did not improve. One week later I took him in to see the Nurse for a sick visit. She said “yes Nick’s ears were full of fluid but that was to be expected after an ear infection. She said I was over-reacting because I had told her I had recently had a miscarriage.” She put Nick on Augmentin. Between 15-18 months I contacted our pediatrician six times, we were given multiple back to back courses of anti-biotics, Nick was seen repeatedly for sick visits. During this time I was told he had bad upper respiratory infections.
During this time Nick lost all eye contact. He didn’t notice if you walked in the room. He just sat about twelve feet from the tv staring at the screen. He also became obsessed with watching the spinning clothes in the washing machine, would spin his sister’s doll plates and would press his ears to the warm clothes dryer. He lost the speech he had. He had putrid, foul diarrhea, often as many as ten episodes a day all the way up his back and down to his knees, sometimes it was just liquid. He got terrible blisters from this diarrhea, once with a wound that bled and left a scar. He would only eat goldfish crackers, yogurt and chicken nuggets. He screamed and cried all day. He was very irritable. He would stare into space for long spells and his eyes wouldn’t shift if you put your hand in front of them. He was gone.
About six times during this time he would scream out in his sleep a feral cry I had never heard before as a mother. It was like nothing I had ever heard in my life, so high pitched and intense. I would race to his crib and he wouldn’t recognize me. I would hold him and he would lurch backwards out of my arms with incredible force, I was afraid a few times I might drop him. In these episodes he wouldn’t know how to latch on to nurse even though he’d been nursing for 16 months. It would take an hour or longer to calm him back to sleep. My pediatrician assured me these were night terrors. I now know he was having an encephalitic reaction in his brain. My pediatrician also told me the diarrhea was “toddler diarrhea” because he drank too much juice.” We never gave Nick any juice.
At 18 months I took Nick back to his pediatrician for his scheduled visit and I laid out all of my concerns. My pediatrician looked visibly panicked when he saw what terrible shape Nick was in. He ordered blood work, did a lead test and wrote “rule out autism” on his medical record.
We went from “meeting all his milestones to rule out autism” in three months after his 15 month shots.
Nick was in fact diagnosed with Moderate Autism at 21 months old. Nick was subsequently diagnosed with: Absence Seizures, Lymphoid Nodular Hyperplasia of the Small Intestine, Hypothyroid, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Severe Gut Dysbiosis, Auditory and Visual Processing Delays.
In 2010 Nick received the most complete Genetic Micro-array at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr. Natowicz. He was unable to find even one deletion. Nick did not have one genetic marker for autism.
Nick is nine years old now and has made nice improvements in his health but remains Moderately Autistic. We spend on average $30k out of pocket on Nick’s healthcare each year. Nick is in a substantially separate classroom with a 1:1 much of the day.
We stopped vaccinating Nick when he was two years old. We no longer vaccinate as a family.
I can’t put into words the suffering Nick has been through, the deep regret that I have for listening to our pediatrician who gave us such poor care, my guilt over not picking up on the signals that we were making this child sick with vaccines and anti-biotics, my fear about what his life will be like as an adult and after my husband and I die.
Nick’s Autism was preventable. He was born healthy and 36 shots concluding at 15 months took his future away and gave him Autism.
I want justice for my son. I want the people responsible for hurting him to be held accountable. I want this dangerous vaccine schedule to be re-examined and modified immediately so that not one more child be harmed.
By the way, my former pediatrician, who did all of this damage, teaches in the Harvard Medical School Pediatrics program – so that’s as good as you get these days I guess.