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Rally Speech, April 23, 2001, Anchorage, Alaska by Maureen Forceskie

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Cael's Story: When Vaccinations Cause Damage
By Maureen Forceskie

I am the mother of an 8-year-old son who was injured by a DPT shot as an infant.  Cael was born a healthy and normal baby.  When he was 4 months old, I took him in for his 2nd DPT shot. I signed the consent form, without feeling any doubt that I was doing the right thing.  Just six hours after this shot, however, Cael experienced a grand mal seizure that lasted for an hour and a half.

In the Emergency Room, doctors drew fluid for a spinal meningitis test that was negative.  He was then given Valium.  His pediatrician told us that some children have seizures after a vaccination, so we thought this was a one-time occurrence. 

Three months later, Cael ran a fever from Roseolla and had five seizures within a 24-hour period of time. Again, we went to the ER, where we met with his pediatrician and a local neurologist. They indicated that Cael may me a child whose brain is sensitive to fever.  It was suggested that Cael start on Tegretol. This was the first of 11 medications that we would try with Cael.

In the following two years, Cael began having two to four generalized seizures each month, both with and without illness.  As we tried other medications, we encountered an increase in seizures; different types of seizures, including drop attacks and night seizures; and horrible side effects from the drugs, including irritability, mood swings, poor balance, rashes, teeth grinding, weight loss, hair loss, crying spells, sleepiness and hyperactivity. Nothing seemed to help.

Although Cael's development seemed to be on schedule the first year, it wasn’t long before we saw the gap widening between him and other children his age in the areas of language, gross motor, fine motor and daily living skills. This was just the beginning of what would be months and years of ongoing seizures and severe developmental delays.

To date, Cael has had over 2,000 seizures. He has tried 11 different medications, special diets, alternative treatments and has a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his chest. The frequency of his seizures has increased over time.  In the past two years, he has been having 20 to 35 seizures every month. Cael has had seizures while playing, bathing, traveling in an airplane, attending school, riding in the cart at the grocery store and sleeping.  There is no apparent pattern to his seizures or any indication of when he’ll have a seizure. 

Cael cannot talk, dress himself, ride a bike, swim or do many other things that normal 8-year-olds do.  Though he receives speech and occupational therapies at school and the hospital, Cael struggles daily with language, fine motor and self-help skills.  He has seizures nearly every day and has to be with an adult at all times.  He sleeps in the same room as my husband and I do so that we can be there when he has his night seizures.  With all this going on, you might imagine how it is impossible for Cael to ever awake feeling rested!  For every step forward, he falls back two or three, due to the seizures and medications.

Cael has undergone frequent medical testing, including routine blood draws to check for toxicity of the drugs and potential damage to his organs, MRIs, EEGs, and skin biopsies. He had surgery nearly two years ago to place a vagus nerve stimulator in his chest. Most of this has had to be done at Children's Hospital in Seattle, as there are no pediatric neurologists in Alaska.

Even after this first severe reaction, the doctors felt that we should go ahead and continue with his vaccines.  We did and Cael continued to have seizures after the shots. Around this time, we began seeing stories on the news about kids reacting to bad lots of vaccines, kids that were having seizures and other neurological problems.  We inquired through the National Vaccine Information Center and requested a packet of specific lot numbers from vaccines that had reports of reactions and deaths associated with it. We also requested a copy of Cael’s shot record from his doctor with the lot number from that DPT vaccine given on July 13, 1993.

When I received the packet of 900 lot numbers, I began scanning the columns.  Sure enough, there his was: a total of 152 reactions and four deaths reported within this lot for DPT shots given between October 1992 and December 1993. Of the 900 lots, this was the fourth largest group of reactions reported. What I found unbelievable was that three of the deaths occurred following shots given before July of 1993, when Cael received his!  How could this lot of vaccines not be pulled from doctor’s offices immediately after one death, much less three deaths?

I was appalled that my child was given a shot from a batch that was known to have caused reactions and even death!  Why are we allowing these vaccines from “hot lots" to continue to be given when there are clearly documented reactions to it? Is not one child’s severe reaction enough to justify pulling the rest from the offices of pediatricians?

This discovery was a turning point for us, as this was the moment that we realized our child had suffered a vaccine-related injury. Once we realized that there could have been some connection between the seizures and the DPT shot, we found information that allowed us to file a petition for compensation. The government acknowledged it immediately as a vaccine related injury and we were able to move forward with the compensation process. A lawyer and life care planner guided us through this process, which would take nearly four years to complete.  We now know that there are thousands of families out there whose child will never be recognized as having had a reaction to a vaccine due to information that is not available to parents.

I regret that I did not have the information eight years ago that I have now. This would have enabled me to make an informed choice regarding vaccines.  What I know now about vaccines is astounding!  Vaccines have caused thousands of severe reactions and permanent damage in children. The government has compensated millions of dollars for vaccine-related injuries and death for what are supposed to be safe vaccines. Why is there a compensation program set up to pay for damages and deaths of children who receive vaccines if they are supposed to be safe?  All parents should have the right to make an informed choice on whether or not to vaccinate without being made to feel like neglectful parents.

We do not know Cael’s prognosis or what the future holds for him.  We only know that we love him dearly and thank God for the health that he does have.  Cael has suffered tremendously and has been through more than most people face in a lifetime. This has affected the rest of his family as well, in many different ways, and it has truly been heart wrenching to watch him suffer. Despite all this, Cael continues to bring smiles to our faces with his mischievous yet simple ways. I know that if our story reaches even one family and allows them to question the safety of vaccines and possibly prevent a severe reaction, it will be worth it. 

As parents, we deserve the right to be made aware of what the real risks are in regards to vaccination.  No family should ever have to learn about the dangers of vaccines through watching their child suffer from ongoing medical problems as a result of a shot that was thought to be safe.  No child should ever again be damaged or killed by toxic vaccines. One child’s death from a vaccine is one too many. Until the government can develop a 100% safe vaccine for diseases, with a guarantee that there will not be a severe reaction, I will not inject my children with mandated vaccines.  I will continue to file medical and religious exemptions from vaccines, which are allowed in the State of Alaska.

My child is living proof that vaccines can damage children.  Although our family mourns for the healthy child Cael could have been, we are determined to give him the highest quality of life possible and to channel our sadness and energy into doing what we can to make vaccines safe for all children!

~ ~ ~   
Maureen Forceskie, Anchorage, Alaska


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