Many have strong feelings on vaccines, Personal experience is what I wanted to share.
When we adopted our son he was 6 years old. I took him to the pediatrician and got all the recommended vaccines. Because of his age, the pediatrician told me the HIB (influenza) vaccine was neither recommended nor necessary, so he did not give it to him.
Fast forward 3 years. My son contracted influenza which turned into a more serious respiratory condition. He ended up in Pediatric ICU and was put into a medically induced coma for 8 weeks. We almost lost him several times during this period. He slowly got strong enough to be awakened.
Then he had to go to rehab for 13 weeks to build up strength and to learn to walk again.
When he was finally released we took him home in time to start 2nd grade. He went to school one day, came home and said he was having problems breathing. We took him to the emergency room where he was again admitted into the ICU. They told us that because of all the damage and scarring in his lungs from the first episode, his lungs had developed cysts which were now infected.
Very long story short, he had 2 lung surgeries in 24 hours where different pieces were removed. When he awoke he was on a ventilator because his lungs were no longer strong enough to breathe on their own without assistance.
Over the next 2 years our son’s health deteriorated before our eyes. He struggled to eat, walk, and breathe. His days were filled with doctors and nurses poking and prodding him in between family members trying to boost his spirits while their own hearts were breaking.
Because our house was the school bus stop, he would see his classmates out of his bedroom window where he was now on a ventilator full time and wheelchair/bed bound. I remember him looking at me and asking with tears in his eyes, Mommy why did this happen to me?
On July 23, 2006, my son’s struggle ended. He died, surrounded by his entire family who loved him dearly.
To this day, his question haunts me, “Mommy, why did this happen to me?” Would that vaccine have prevented all of this? I’ll never know (though I believe it would have), but I live with guilt and grief every day.
My experience tells me there should be few, if any, optional vaccines; and making them mandatory will protect not just our own children, but society at large.
By Maria DeLuca-Pranzo