Tag: vaccine injury

Vaccines and Seizures

A newborn baby getting an EEG.
A newborn baby getting an EEG.

Can vaccines cause seizures?

Unfortunately, they sometimes can.

Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

The CDC reports that “There is a small increased risk for febrile seizures after MMR and MMRV vaccines.”

We also know that:

  • there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures when the influenza vaccine is given at the same time as either the Prevnar13 vaccine or the DTaP vaccine, although “the risk of febrile seizure with any combination of these vaccines is small and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend getting any of these vaccines on separate days.”
  • there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures if the combined MMR and chicken pox vaccine (ProQuad) is given to infants between the ages of 12 to 23 months vs their getting the shots separately.

But remember that febrile seizures, while scary for parents and other caregivers, are rarely dangerous.

It is also important to note that while febrile seizures are common, they are not commonly triggered by vaccines. A 2016 report in Pediatrics, “Vaccines and Febrile Seizures: Quantifying the Risk,” states that “The risk is 1 febrile seizure per pediatric practice every 5 to 10 years.”

Not surprisingly though, vaccines can likely prevent many febrile seizures, as chicken pox, flu, Hib, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal infections and other vaccine-preventable diseases often cause fever and can trigger febrile seizures themselves.

Also, a study recently found that children who got sick with pertussis could be at increased risk for developing epilepsy, or recurrent seizures. That’s just another good reason to get vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines and Other Types of Seizures

While vaccines can sometimes trigger febrile seizures, they do not typically cause other types of seizures.

It was once thought that seizures were a common side effect of the DPT vaccine, but many studies have found that to not be true and seizures following DPT was even removed as a table injury from the NVICP. In fact, many of these children were instead found to have Dravet syndrome, which put them at increased risk for febrile seizures.

Long-term non-febrile seizures are still listed as side effects for the DTaP and MMR vaccine, but they “are so rare it is hard to tell if they are caused by the vaccine.”

A 2010 study in Pediatrics, “Lack of Association Between Acellular Pertussis Vaccine and Seizures in Early Childhood,” did not find any “increased risk for seizures after
DTaP vaccination among children who were aged 6 weeks to 23 months.”

Do report any reaction to VAERS if you think it was caused by a vaccine though.

Seizures After Getting Vaccines

If vaccines don’t usually cause seizures, then how do you explain a healthy infant developing seizures a few days, weeks, or months after getting his vaccines?

We’re always looking for reasons why something happened. The example I use is from my wife, who is a pediatrician. She was about to vaccinate a four-month-old baby, and while she was drawing the vaccine from the syringe, the baby had a seizure — and went onto have a permanent seizure disorder. Now, my wife hadn’t given the vaccine yet. But if she had given that vaccine five minutes earlier, there would have been no amount of statistical data in the world that would have convinced that mother that the vaccine hadn’t caused the baby’s seizure. You can do studies that show no increased risk with vaccines and seizure disorders, but that mother might still say “well, that’s true for the population but it’s not true for my child.”

Temporal associations are powerful, and they’re hard to defeat with statistics or studies.

Paul Offit, MD interview for The Thinking Persons Guide to Autism

There are many seizure disorders that begin in infancy.

Some even start in the newborn period, before a baby is a month old.

They are not triggered by vaccines though.

They include:

  • Infantile Spasms (first described in 1841) – typically begin when infants are about 4 months old, just when they get their second set of vaccines, which weren’t available when Dr. West described his own son’s repeated spasms
  • Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures – often genetic, seizures may begin on a baby’s third day of life
  • Benign Neonatal Convulsions – begin on the fifth day of life – the “fifth day fits,” and the seizures stop in about a month

If your child got her first hepatitis B vaccine when she was five days old and began having seizures, would you accept a diagnosis of Benign Neonatal Convulsions or would you blame the shot?

Would you remember the saying about correlation and causation?

For More Information on Vaccines and Seizures:

Vaccine Excise Tax

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund was set up by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 as a source of funds to compensate people found to be injured by certain vaccines by the Vaccine Court.

Vaccine Excise Tax

Money for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund comes from a $0.75 excise tax on each vaccine that kids routinely get as recommended by the CDC.

Who pays this vaccine tax?

Is it the drug companies or folks getting the vaccines?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury collects the tax from the vaccine manufacturers.

But like other manufacturing costs, they likely just add it to the price of the vaccine. They are still paying it though.

Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund

How much does the IRS collect?

Between 2009 and 2013, it has averaged about $200 million a year.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund has a balance of over $3 billion, as in addition to the excise tax, it gains interest on investments. That balance has grown because the Fund’s income has outpaced its payments (about $3.5 billion) over the years.

For More Information on the Vaccine Excise Tax

Table Injuries and Vaccine Court

Vaccine injuries, while rare, are certainly real.

In fact, as most people are aware, since 1988, almost $3.5 billion dollars have been paid out by the Vaccine Court for 4,899 compensated awards under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

While most were settled and “cannot be characterized as a decision by HHS or by the Court that the vaccine caused an injury,” some of the claims were either compensated by a court decision or by concession and for which “it is more likely than not that the vaccine caused the injury or the evidence supports fulfillment of the criteria of the Vaccine Injury Table.”

History of the Vaccine Injury Table

The Vaccine Injury Table was created by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and includes “a table of vaccines, the injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths resulting from the administration of such vaccines, and the time period in which the first symptom or manifestation of onset or of the significant aggravation of such injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths is to occur after vaccine administration for purposes of receiving compensation under the Program.”

The Vaccine Injury Table:

  • “is a listing of covered vaccines and associated injuries,” although some covered vaccines, like Hib, hepatitis A, chicken pox, flu, HPV, Prevnar, and the meningococcal vaccines, are not on the table
  • “makes it easier for some people to get compensation,” since if a symptom of a table injury occurs within the time frame of getting a table vaccine, then unless another cause is found, “it is presumed that the vaccine was the cause of the injury”
  • “lists and explains injuries and/or conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines,” from anaphylaxis and encephalopathy to thrombocytopenic purpura
  • has been modified several times, most notably in 1995 (HHE and seizures from DTP were removed as table injuries and chronic arthritis from rubella was added), 1997 (thrombocytopenia (measles), brachial neuritis (tetanus), and anaphylaxis (hepatitis B) were added as table injuries), and 2002 (intussusception (rotavirus) added as a table injury).
  • is typically only modified if an Institute of Medicine report finds scientific evidence that a condition could be caused by a vaccine with guidance of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines

Some people, especially anti-vaccine folks who think it is too hard to get compensated under the NVICP, will be surprised that one of the main overarching guiding principles for making changes to the Vaccine Injury Table is that:

Where there is credible scientific and medical evidence both to support and to reject a proposed change (addition or deletion) to the Table, the change should, whenever possible, be made to the benefit of petitioners.

Guiding Principles for Recommending Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table

Changes to the Vaccine Injury Table were proposed last year.

Off Table Injuries

As you can imagine, since most new vaccines do not have table injuries, the VICP has shifted from Vaccine Injury Table to off-Table claims.

While that may change if last years proposed changes are adopted, off-Table claims can still be compensated, a vaccine is not just presumed as causing an injury in these cases.

For More Information on Table Injuries


John Salamone and the Oral Polio Vaccine

schedule1989sWe don’t use the oral polio vaccine in the United States anymore because of the risk of vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP).

We were still using it though in 1990 when John Salamone’s son, David was getting his vaccines.

Following the 1989 childhood immunization schedule, David Salamone would have gotten his first dose of OPV, together with a DTP shot, at age two months.

David’s parents were unaware that VAPP could occur in about 1 in every 1.27 million children receiving their first dose of OPV.

When David was immunized in 1990, we simply had no idea that this would happen or that we had choices in the type of polio vaccine he could receive. Obviously, if we could have that fateful day back we would have chosen a safer, just as effective, injectable vaccine.

Was the injectable polio vaccine (IPV) just as effective in 1990 in the United States?

Experts had actually been debating that for years, starting with a 1977 IOM report on the Evaluation of Poliomyelitis Vaccines to a 1988 report that recommending considering a move to a IPV/OPV regimen.

The switch finally came in 2000.

And John Salamone had a lot to do with that.

Paul Offit, MD has said that “He had everything to do, frankly, with our move in 1998 from a vaccine schedule that included the oral polio vaccine to one that didn’t.”

As president of the advocacy group Informed Parents Against Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Polio, he was one of the first pro-safe vaccine parents. The group changed their name to Vaccine Associated Polio Society (VAPS) in 2002.

Note that he didn’t form a group against vaccines or lobby against all vaccines, he instead pushed for a switch to a safer vaccine that was already available and his advocacy group was formed “to provide a continuum of care, establish a network of support, and coordinate a central resource point for vaccine-associated polio survivors and their families.”

For More Information On John Salamone and VAPP:

Lea Thompson and Her Vaccine Roulette

Many of the people in the modern anti-vaccine movement have become house-hold names.

Jenny McCarthy

Andy Wakefield

Bob Sears

But who remembers Lea Thompson?

Lea who?

Lea Thompson won an Emmy award for Vaccine Roulette.

Lea Thompson is the consumer reporter for WRC-TV in Washington, DC who wrote, starred in, and produced the anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaccine Roulette in 1982.

Widely dismissed as anti-vaccine propaganda, much like Vaxxed, featuring vaccine-injury stories and so called experts, such as Robert Mendelsohn, the airing of Vaccine Roulette is often credited as the start of the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Vaccine Roulette scared a lot of parents away from vaccinating their kids and like the anti-vaccine books, websites, and movies that are put out today, it was filled with misinformation.

For example, studies have shown that the DPT vaccine does not cause brain damage.

And we now know about Dravet syndrome.

And that many, if not all of Thompson’s claims were false or misleading.

Her claims that countries that stopped giving the DPT vaccine didn’t see a resurgence of pertussis are false.

In Japan for instance, “Pertussis coverage for infants fell from nearly 80% in 1974 to 10% in 1976. A pertussis epidemic occurred in 1979 with more than 13 000 cases and 41 deaths. Japan began replacing whole-cell with acellular pertussis vaccines in 1981, and a striking fall in pertussis incidence followed.”

In the UK, “Although health authorities resisted pressure to withdraw the vaccine, loss of confidence in it led to a sharp reduction in coverage. Pertussis epidemics followed. Confidence was restored after publication of a national reassessment of vaccine efficacy that showed “outstanding value in preventing serious disease”.”

In the Russian Federation, “Parents and physicians lost confidence in vaccines, and chose not to immunise children. DTP coverage fell by 30%, setting the stage for diphtheria and pertussis epidemics. Along with perhaps the largest postwar diphtheria outbreak, The Russian Federation has reported one of the highest incidences of pertussis in the developed world.”

There were similar reports in Ireland, Italy, the former West Germany, and Australia, all “countries where immunisation was disrupted by antivaccine movements.”

On the other hand, we didn’t see the same types of pertussis outbreaks where high DPT vaccination rates were maintained, including Hungary, the former East Germany, Poland, and the USA.

For more information:

Fainting After Vaccines

Have you heard about children getting dizzy or fainting (syncope) after getting a vaccine?

Although we usually hear about it after teens getting their vaccines, the “CDC has received reports of people fainting after nearly all vaccines.”

Fortunately, fainting after getting a vaccine does not cause any lasting effects, although getting hurt from a fall could. That’s why “experts recommend having patients sit in a chair or lay down when they receive a vaccination.  In addition, patients should be observed for 15 minutes after vaccination.”

A common vaccine side effect, it isn’t clear though if it is the vaccine or the pain from the shot that leads to the fainting. Teens commonly faint after other painful procedures too, such as getting a blood draw or donating blood.

For more information:


DNA in Vaccines

Are you worried about DNA in vaccines?

I’m not talking about future DNA vaccines, but rather about DNA contaminating the vaccines that we currently use.

Have you heard the stories that fragments of human DNA from fetal cells in the MMR vaccine could be linked to autism?

Or that human, pig, and other foreign DNA has been found in vaccines?

Vaccines still don’t cause autism, but highly fragmented (mostly destroyed) DNA can be found in some vaccines in very small amounts.


In 2010, porcine circovirus type 1 and 2 (PCV1 and PCV2) was detected in rotavirus vaccines. This porcine (pig) DNA was a contaminant of the residual medium in which the rotavirus vaccine was grown (and was detected because a new technique was developed). Fortunately, porcine circoviruses are not known to cause infection or disease in people.

In fact, “since both PCV species are highly prevalent in healthy pigs, human dietary and respiratory exposure to this virus is common through pork consumption. ”

What about reports of human DNA fragments in Gardasil?

In 2011, the FDA reported that it had “recently received inquiries regarding the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA fragments in Gardasil and is aware that information related to this issue is on the internet.” They concluded that “the presence of DNA fragments is expected in Gardasil and not evidence of contamination,” and that:

  • residual recombinant HPV L1-specific DNA fragments are present in Gardasil because “the HPV L1 gene is used in the vaccine manufacturing process to produce the virus-like particles that make up the vaccine”
  • there are no full-length infectious HPV genomes
  • this is not a contaminant and is not a safety hazard

Lastly, even when small amounts of fragmented DNA is leftover in a vaccine, it can’t cause harm because “DNA from the vaccine is not able to incorporate itself into cellular DNA.”

For more information: