Do Vaccines Cause Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Breaking News – 62 cases of AFM in 22 states have been confirmed so far this year, and another 65 are under investigation.

Since 2014, we have seen several outbreaks of acute flaccid paralysis (the sudden onset of weakness in one or more arms or legs) across the United States.


We don’t know, except we do know that these folks don’t have polio, even though folks continue to get confused because the kids are described as having a “polio-like” disease. Every case undergoes extensive testing, including testing for polio and other viral infections.

Do Vaccines Cause Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Tragically, like some other conditions of unknown cause, some people have grasped onto the idea that AFP could be caused by vaccines.

“Of 14 patients with available information, 12 had previously received polio vaccine; one child and one adult were unvaccinated because of personal belief exemptions.”

Acute Flaccid Paralysis with Anterior Myelitis — California, June 2012–June 2014

It shouldn’t be surprising that there is absolutely no evidence that this is any type of vaccine injury.

Of nearly 350 cases of the acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), or the subtype of AFP that we have been seeing since 2014, we know that:

  • most cases occur in children
  • they have a magnetic resonance image (MRI) showing spinal cord lesion largely restricted to gray matter and spanning one or more vertebral segments
  • AFM can be caused by viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders, although no common etiology has been found in recent cases
  • cases are occurring sporadically – after 120 cases in 34 states in 2014, there were only 24 cases in 17 states in 2015, but then 149 cases in 39 states in 2016 and 33 cases in 16 states in 2017. And there have been at least 62 cases in 22 states in 2018.
  • most cases occur in the late summer and early fall
  • most had symptoms of a preceding viral illness, including respiratory symptoms or diarrhea
  • some were unvaccinated
  • the ages of affected children has ranged from 5 months to 20 years
  • some patients have recovered, while others have persistent paralysis
  • there has been at least one death
  • some, but not all, were positive for enterovirus D68
  • in Colorado this year, 9 of 14 cases were linked to EV-A71 infections
  • although there was a national outbreak of EV-D68 in 2014 that coincided with the first AFM cases, we didn’t see this kind of outbreak in the following years

So what’s causing these kids, with a median age of about 7 years, to develop acute flaccid myelitis?

We don’t know, but there is certainly no reason to think that it could be a vaccine, as some anti-vaccine folks suggest.

For one thing, several of the kids were completely unvaccinated!

And then, if it was a vaccine, why the seasonal pattern?

Would a vaccine injury have such a seasonal pattern – even skipping a year?
Would a vaccine injury have such a seasonal pattern – even skipping a year?

And why don’t cases occur in all states and at the same rates each year?

Also, why the big range in ages? After all, what vaccines do a 5 month old and a 20 year old have in common?

And the CDC has been looking at all possible causes.

“Our medical team has been reviewing vaccine records when available during this year’s investigation and do not see a correlation.”

Kristen Nordlund, CDC spokeswoman

Acute flaccid myelitis is not caused by vaccines. Hopefully we will soon find out what really is causing it and can figure out how to prevent it.

Want to prevent a type of acute flaccid paralysis right now?

Get vaccinated!

While AFM is a type of non-polio AFP, we have long had a vaccine that can prevent polio, which also causes acute flaccid paralysis.

More on Vaccines and Acute Flaccid Paralysis

Updated October 17, 2018

19 thoughts on “Do Vaccines Cause Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

  1. People still harp on the vaccine /autism connection…but if vaccines cause autism, why do 9 out of 10 boys get it and so few girls? Vaccine programs have been around for roughly a century or so…and people were autistic for centuries before that.


    1. Even the CDC and vaccine manufacturers admit that brain damage can be caused by vaccines. It’s a known adverse reaction. Vaccines may not cause autism, but they could cause brain damage that mimics autism and gets misdiagnosed. The number of vaccines we give kids has doubled since the 1980’s and the number of vaccinations has tripled. America gives children around twice as many vaccinations as the average for developed countries and as much as triple the vaccinations given in other developed countries, yet we have no less incidence of vaccine preventable diseases, no lower mortality, the worst health, shortest life expectancy, highest child under five mortality rate, and highest autism rate. In 1980, the autism rate in the US was 1 in 10,000. Today it is 1 in 59. The autism rate has never been higher, so while it did exist long before vaccines, it used to be fairly rare. After vaccines the autism rate dramatically increased. AFM has been occuring for years and always spikes right when the flu shot gets released. The flu shot is responsible for the most vaccine injuries and deaths, is the culprit in most settlements for families who had someone injured or killed by the vaccine, and guillain-barre is known to be caused by the flu vaccine. The symptoms of guillain-barre and AFM are basically identical and the tests to diagnose are basically identical. There are also 3,000-5,000 cases of guillain-barre each year. It’s entirely possible that AFM is either guillain-barre that was misdiagnosed or is another consequence of the flu vaccine. When vaccines are known to cause things like brain damage and paralysis, it’s within reason to say an increase in a paralyzing illness that only occurs during flu shot season could be linked to vaccines. Guillain-barre also affects men more than women. There are many things that either affect men more or women more. Perhaps males are just more sensitive and react differently to vaccines than females.


  2. I just read your article. If it’s not a vaccine related as you say, why does it always seem to show up after the promotion of the flu vaccine?


  3. Seasonal pattern is due to seasonal administration of flu vaccine. Were these children “Completely Unvaccinated” or just unvaccinated for Polio.


  4. Why the seasonal pattern because flu shots are given seasonally at that exact time! Why age range because now they push the flu shot on all age levels NOT just the elderly and those with week immune systems. It’s so obvious I don’t understand why people just don’t get it. I’m not against vaccination but against too much vaccination!!


  5. As others have pointed out, AFM only becomes a problem when the flu shot is released. Most of the states with cases have higher rates of flu vaccination. The flu shot is responsible for the most injuries and deaths of any vaccine every year and is usually the vaccine in the case of families getting settlements due to vaccine injury/death, and is known to cause guillain-barre which has basically identical symptoms to AFM. So if the flu shot is known to cause an illness that results in paralysis, why is it unreasonable to wonder if it could be the cause of this paralyzing illness too? Also, 91.9% of US children get the polio vaccine and more than enough of the US population is vaccinated to provide herd immunity. Most of the kids getting AFM have been vaccinated. I’d also like to point out that there is no vaccine for AFM and the polio vaccine doesn’t protect against AFM. So how exactly does vaccinating lower your chances of getting AFM? Vaccines don’t prevent every illness or disease on Earth. They only work on diseases that have a vaccine. It’s like how antibiotics work really well for bacterial infections but won’t help if you have a cold or cancer.


  6. I agree with the lady that commented on the article. I believe this AFM is related to the kids getting the vaccines. I’m totally against all the shots including the flu shot. My kids will never get a shot .


  7. Are you kidding me? If not vaccine related, why is it listed as a possible side effect on many of the vaccine inserts? Also, why would getting vaccinated help protect you when there is no vaccine for AFM? You just stated that 12 of the 14 cases mentioned were vaccinated so again, how is it that vaccines help with prevention? Please inform yourself before publishing this information.


    1. Again, AFM is a type of non-polio, acute flaccid paralysis. These summer time outbreaks should recall, from the pre-vaccine era, when we had another type of acute flaccid paralysis that was caused by the polio virus. If too many folks skip that vaccine, it could come back.


  8. Then why are non-vaccinated children getting AFM? And why aren’t all vaccinated children developing said symptoms? Stop speading unfounded fear. I am greatful children don’t have to suffer childhood illnesses I did, and lead healthier lives because of vaccines.


  9. I see that my initial comment was rejected. Shame. It wasn’t inflammatory.

    This article’s conclusions could well be true, but it definitely has hyperbole, which undermines its credibility. It states: “It shouldn’t be surprising that there is absolutely no evidence that this is any type of vaccine injury.”

    A simple google search of “AFM Vaccine” turns up a paper as the third result, “Do we need a new approach to making vaccine recommendations?”, from the BMJ. I am omitting the link in case this triggers comment rejection.

    This article demonstrates a clear historical record that mainstream scientists, and even public health officials, recognized as far back as the 1950’s that the polio vaccine may be triggering AFM. Vaccine schedules have even been delayed in the past during AFM outbreaks, by the same public officials. There is even a term for the connection – “provocation poliomyelitis”, as in provoked by the injection.

    So again, I wish articles like this would lose the hyperbole, which comes off as condescension. Arguments will not be won if they do not respect the audience.


  10. Flu vaccine is given to all ages and varies in its composition annually, also different manufacturers may be prevalent in certain localities


    1. It is just the antigens that vary. Is that what you folks are worried about now? Not the other ingredients, but rather the antigens?
      And flu vaccines are distributed across the country, not to specific cities or states.
      Most importantly though, if it is the flu vaccine, how do you explain that the cases begin rising and then peak before folks start getting flu vaccine? Very few folks are getting their flu vaccines before the end of August/middle of September. For most, it is late September and by through October.


      1. Flue vaccine is manufactured in 3 different ways. The way the virus parts are sourced, cultured, and purified are different in each case. It would be interesting to know how the FDA certifies the manufacturing/testing of the purified samples. I’d imagine the only reasonable way to certify purity is to perform ‘batch’ certification which only certifies batches with a level of statistical confidence. Recombinant flu vaccine was approved in 2013 (1 year) prior to the uptick in incidences (2014). I agree that if it were flu vaccine itself, then the most rationale expectation would be that it occur every year rather then be cyclical in nature. I think the deeper question is the mechanism of damage? This sounds eerily familiar to an MS flare up and/or many other auto-immune diseases, where our own immune system is somehow activated to turn on itself. Is the actual cause of symptoms from AFM an immune attack? In AFM MRI imaging is used to look at the spine. Doctors can see the damage from AFM as lesions in grey matter (just like MS). I think there needs to be more research into how flu vaccine (vaccines in general) affect our natural immune system function. Immune system function changes/matures throughout the course of human development. I have read articles written by doctors (not published in medical journals) that claim vaccines destroy the natural balance between cell mediated and humoral immune responses. Might there be some complex, time delayed, cascading or synergistic affects, that may be triggered or exacerbated by a vaccine that is being overlooked or not even remotely close to being understood…..? Probably.


    1. Recombinant flu vaccines were approved in 2013, just before these cases started. But who were they approved for? Ages 18 and up. Few of the kids affected by AFM would have gotten this type of flu vaccine and again, why so many cases in June, July, and August?


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