As the mother of a child who had a severe allergic reaction to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, I have my own ethical questions – not about those who choose not to vaccinate their children, but about the way our health care system manages the entire vaccination program.
I have always known that a small percentage of children experience adverse reactions to specific vaccines. What I didn’t expect was that health care providers would close ranks and deny an adverse reaction when it occurred.
When my year-old son exhibited all three of the major symptoms of an adverse reaction to MMR, as outlined by the Centres for Disease Control (including internal bleeding) and did so within the specified time-frame for an adverse reaction, emergency room doctors insisted he was allergic to a new food or something else in his environment.
Although I couldn’t prove beyond doubt that MMR was the culprit, all the indicators were there. At the very least, my son’s file should have remained open until the “offending” food or environmental substance caused a repeat reaction.
My son is now six years old. I’m happy to report that after almost a month, he made a full recovery. He has never had another allergic reaction to anything, nor has he had the MMR booster.
My trust in the system has been broken. All medical procedures come with risks, but if we don’t keep an accurate accounting, how can we ever know what is really happening to our children and when the danger has become too great?
I did a lot of research following our ordeal and learned that scores of doctors in the United Kingdom had signed a petition before MMR was released, stating that it hadn’t been adequately tested and that it was both dangerous and unnecessary to combine the three vaccines into one shot.
Jillian Skeet, Vancouver
The Vancouver Sun’ Letter to the Editor; September 2, 2008
Originally appeared at this web link (no longer active): http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/letters/story.html?id=7df91b96-6563-4641-a5b1-11df68881eab