by Tara Niebaum
"That one family who was willing to tell me their story of vaccine injury likely changed the course of my entire life and the lives of my three children."
In 1996, when I was pregnant with my first child, I walked into church one day and saw a child and a family I had never seen there before. The little girl was wheelchair bound, had a trach, could not hold her own head up or clear her throat. I don't know that I'd ever seen a child in such a severe condition outside of a hospital
I remember introducing myself to the family and asking if they were open to explaining to me their little girl's diagnosis. I will never forget the mother looking at me and saying, "I can't really tell you but, my sister is right there. Ask her.
Her sister began to tell me about how this little girl had been a perfectly healthy baby right up until the day that she received her MMR at 12 months. Within hours, she developed a fever in excess of 108, began seizing, and ended up permanently and severely brain damaged. She explained to me that the family had been awarded a settlement through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. I knew that vaccines could cause reactions, but I had never heard of anything like this or seen with my own eyes such a tragic outcome. I was speechless.
My husband and I were in the process of making vaccine decisions about our own first child who was to be born in March of 1997. I cannot even recount the hours and hours of research I did at the library during those final months of my pregnancy. This was before the days of the Internet so I really worked hard to read studies using microfiche and microfilm. I made copies. The more I found, the more I studied. I kept a binder that just kept getting bigger and bigger. Within a very short period of time, my husband and I made the decision that vaccines were neither safe nor effective and that even back in 1996, there was plenty of literature out there to prove that
That one family who was willing to tell me their story of vaccine injury likely changed the course of my entire life and the lives of my three children.
I could not have known in 1997 that my father had suffered febrile seizures as a child and extremely high fevers (something that did not come out until he developed viral encephalitis and spent nearly a year in ICU.) I could not have known that all three of my children had extremely sensitive neurology and aggressive fever responses to even minor viruses (a 105-106 fever that spikes within minutes is a pretty normal response to any given virus even for my second child who is now 18.) I cannot even begin to imagine how any of my children would have responded to the toxins in vaccines.So, I say all of that to say, I do not have a vaccine injured child by God's grace and because of a mom like you...who made sure her child's story got told--if only through her sister. And I've spent the last 23 years advocating for vaccine choice and for the support of those of you who have had your lives devastated and your hearts broken because a vaccine stole or permanently damaged your child. You mamas are my heroes. You are some of the strongest, most courageous warriors I have ever known...and I thank you for your courage and your voice and your unwavering effort to warn others like I was warned. I know it comes at a high cost...with a lot of hatred and rejection...I get a lot of that myself mostly because I am not considered a credible advocate as I do not, in fact, have a vaccine injured child of my own...not that this necessarily lends to credibility because I see how many of you are treated in spite of your own personal experience with vaccine damage.
Anyways, this is my long winded attempt at saying THANK YOU. None of you will ever know how many children you have spared simply by being willing to share your story and take the beatings and the backlash. Some of us do listen. And we pray for you. Please do not ever let them silence you. One day, the truth will prevail and this very crooked path will be set straight.
Much love to all of you --Tara Niebaum