A vaccine is an agent made up of a killed (or severely weakened) bacteria or virus that stimulates antibody production in the body, but does not cause infection. Vaccines have been created for the prevention of many diseases, including:
Vaccines are considered safe for the majority of people to whom they are administered. However, in a small percentage of cases, vaccines have been known to cause allergic reactions, chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, and even death. Vaccines that have been subjects of pharmaceutical litigation cases include RhoGAM® and other vaccines that contain thimerosal.
Side Effects and Conditions Linked to Vaccines
Numerous possible side effects have been linked with vaccines, including:
- Anaphylactic shock: an allergic reaction characterized by a drop in blood pressure and breathing difficulties, which, if not treated immediately, can lead to death.
- Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain.
- Chronic arthritis: a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints.
- Vaccine-strain polio: the polio vaccine has been known to lead to polio infection in some patients.
- Vaccine-strain measles: the measles vaccine has been known to lead to measles infection in some patients.
- Intussusception: a condition characterized by the intestine folding in upon itself.
- Autism: a condition, usually diagnosed by the time a child turns three years old, that manifests itself in the form repetitive behavior, language difficulties, social problems, and abnormal movement.
Autism is the name given to a group of disorders (autistic spectrum disorders) that affect young children before their third birthday. Autism is characterized by repetitive behavior, social impairment, difficulty with language, and abnormal movement.
The symptoms of autism include:
- Loss of speech
- Temper tantrums
- Repetitive behavior
- Language difficulties
- Aversion to touch
- Light sensitivity
- Social withdrawal
- Abnormal gait
- Abnormal posture
- Sound sensitivity
Autism and Thimerosal
The symptoms of autism are very similar to the symptoms of mercury poisoning. As a result of this similarity, some medical professionals have theorized that autism may be linked to mercury poisoning. This has led to concern that thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that contains trace amounts of mercury, may be contributing to autism in children. Although no conclusive evidence has been provided to support this theory, vaccine manufacturers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Public Health Services agencies have agreed to eliminate or reduce the amount of thimerosal used in pediatric vaccines.
Although autism cannot be cured, people with autism can learn to live normal lives through special education, family support, and, in some cases, medication. Treatment focuses on improving social skills and behavior, through the use of antidepressants, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
Thimerosal is an ingredient that has been used in many vaccines as a preservative since the 1930s. Thimerosal contains a form of mercury known as ethylmercury, which is related to methylmercury, a form of mercury that is highly toxic to unborn children, premature babies, and young children. While there is not much data on the effects of ethylmercury, some experts have concerns that the thimerosal in vaccines may be harmful to children.
People who are exposed to mercury at levels above limits set by federal agencies such as the FDA and the EPA run the risk of mercury poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Difficulty walking or speaking
- Attention deficit
- Brain, lung, or kidney damage
There has been concern that mercury poisoning in young children is a direct cause of autism. These concerns are based on the similarities between the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism. As a result, there was speculation that the thimerosal in vaccines may be connected to autism; however, an Institutes of Medicine report failed to substantiate these claims. Nevertheless, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be eliminated from all pediatric vaccines, and the amount of thimerosal reduced in other vaccines.
Consult a Lawyer
If you or a member of your family has been harmed as the result of a vaccine, you may have a valid pharmaceutical litigation case. Locate a personal injury lawyer in your area who can advise you of your rights and evaluate your case.