NVIC Vaccine News

The Vaccine Reaction - March 1995

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Published March 01, 1995 in Government

Story Summary

    • Secretary Shalala takes away vaccine injury compensation from DPT injured children, despite protests from federal advisory committee;
    • U.S. Supreme Court denies vaccine injury to child suffering from DPT vaccine related seizures;
    • Tort reform bill to limit product liability;
    • Experimental vaccines haunt ill Gulf War veterans;
    • Rubella vaccine derived from aborted fetal cells fuels controversy;
    • Judge denies attempt to overturn TV actress custody of child over vaccine refusal;
    • Epilespy linked to immune system malfunction;
    • Jury awards $12 million for flu vaccine paralysis;
    • DPT hot lot list;
    • Miss America's interview on her vaccine injury creates a stir.

"When it happens to you or your child, the risks are 100%"

Vol. 1, No. 1

Published bi-monthly by the National Vaccine Information Center

March 1995
Reproduced from hardcopy newsletter mailer for historic and information purposes.
Contact information for NVIC has since changed.

Barbara Loe Fisher, Editor

This is the first issue of THE VACCINE REACTION published bi-monthly by the National Vaccine Information Center operated by Dissatisfied Parents Together (NVIC/DPT) and we welcome you as a charter subscriber. THE VACCINE REACTION will give you the latest news about vaccination and disease control as seen through the eyes of science and medicine, government, law, politics as well as from the perspective of the individuals who are affected by mass vaccination policies in America and around the world. Our goal is to inform, to question, to stimulate debate and to broaden the public's knowledge about disease and vaccination - a goal that will also lead us to explore the worlds of public health policy, alternative health care, constitutional law, religion and civil and human rights. Because vaccines are legally mandated to be given to every healthy child born and because vaccines carry the risk of injury or death - the dimension of which is unknown - there is no area of this public health issue that will remain unexamined. We would like to hear from you, our readers, and welcome your comments and suggestions.

- The Editor


In a calculated move designed to bolster the federal government's claim that the DPT vaccine does not kill or injure children, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and her department published final rules in the Federal Register (Vol. 60, No.26 - Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1995) that effectively destroy the integrity of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. HHS's action makes it impossible for most children injured or killed by DPT vaccine to receive compensation under the no-fault federal vaccine injury compensation program Congress set up nearly a decade ago as a non-adversarial alternative to lawsuits against drug companies and physicians.

"America no longer has a vaccine injury compensation program," said Kathi Williams, Director, NVIC/DPT. "When a mother takes her child into a doctor's office to be vaccinated, particularly with DPT, she had better understand that if her child reacts and is injured, there is no government program to help with medical bills or therapy for her child."

Nobody Will Qualify: As of March 10, 1995, the only adverse events presumed to be associated with DPT vaccination are anaphylaxis occurring within four hours and encephalopathy/encephalitis (brain inflammation) occurring within 72 hours of a DPT vaccination. In order to qualify under HHS's new definition of encephalopathy, a child would have to exhibit a "significantly decreased level of consciousness" (unconsciousness or inability to respond to most stimuli) for more than 24 hours following a DPT shot and be hospitalized. No longer will a child, who suffers classic pertussis vaccine reaction symptoms such as high pitched screaming, collapse/shock, bulging fontanelle or seizures within 72 hours of a DPT vaccination and sustains permanent neurological damage, including a residual seizure disorder, be presumed to be eligible for compensation in the federal program.

One lawyer who represents vaccine injured children in the U.S. Court of Claims, commented, "What you have now can be compared to a federal program that will compensate anyone who is in a plane crash in a snow storm within 10 miles of Tahiti. Nobody will ever qualify."

Vaccine Advisory Commission Protests: The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV), formerly headed by Georges Peter, M.D. and now chaired by Curtis Webb, a plaintiff's lawyer from Twin Falls, Idaho, voted on Mar. 1 to send a formal request to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala recommending that she "indefinitely postpone" the effective date of the portion of the final rules that removes seizure disorders from the vaccine injury table for DPT vaccine and changes the definition of encephalopathy in the 1986 law. ACCV, which is composed of doctors, lawyers , parents and consumers, had asked HHS to show them the final rules before they were published on Feb. 8 but HHS refused. The ACCV vote was split with three doctors and a vaccine manufacturer representative voting to endorse the new rules and five consumers, parents and lawyers voting to oppose them.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was passed after years of negotiation between the vaccine manufacturers, American Academy of Pediatrics and Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT). The law set up a compensation program funded by surcharges on each vaccine given (in effect it is a self-insurance program for each individual who is vaccinated) and currently the compensation fund has accumulated more than $825 million in reserves. HHS actively opposed passage of the vaccine safety and compensation law.

CDC and FDA Officials Defy the Law: In the past seven years during which the law has been in effect, more than $500 million has been awarded to vaccine victims, most of which were injured or killed by the whole cell pertussis vaccine in the DPT shot. Unhappy with the fact that so many awards are being given for DPT vaccine injuries and deaths because each award is an acknowledgement that the vaccine can kill and injure, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and health officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been actively working to defy the law and will of Congress by taking actions to weaken the law's compensation and vaccine safety provisions. Among their accomplishments:

  • distorting scientific information provided by the Institute of Medicine on DPT vaccine side effects in order to mislead the public and Congress into believing that the pertussis vaccine almost never causes permanent damage and that children who die or are brain injured after being vaccinated with DPT are inherently defective and would have died or been brain damaged even if no vaccine had been given;
  • subverting Congress's mandate that HHS provide parents with complete information on vaccine benefits and risks by eliminating most truthful information about vaccine risks from the parent information packet;
  • deliberately covering up vaccine injuries and deaths by refusing to follow up on reports of adverse events following vaccination and failing to identify highly reactive lots of vaccine and pull them off the market;
  • successfully fighting almost every vaccine injury claim that is filed using well paid Department of Justice lawyers and HHS sponsored medical expert witnesses that turn U.S. Court of Claims compensation hearings into court trials while simultaneously dragging out the bureaucratic process to the point where few lawyers will represent parents in the compensation program because legal costs are too high;
  • offering so little compensation to many vaccine injured children who are mentally retarded, epileptic and multiply handicapped compared to what the child financially requires for a lifetime of care that parents are forced to turn down the compensation award because they can't afford to lose public assistance; and
  • continuing to place newborn babies at increased risk of vaccine injury and death by failing to approve use of the less reactive acellular pertussis vaccine in children under 18 months of age and, at the same time, allowing the drug companies to create new combined vaccines, such as DPT and HIB, using the reactive whole cell pertussis vaccine.


In her zeal to cover-up DPT vaccine injuries by denying federal compensation to vaccine injured children, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala has taken DPT vaccine-injured Maggie Whitecotton, now 19, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Maggie, sitting in her wheelchair with her parents beside her, was in the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on a rainy and cold Feb. 28 to witness the Court's nine justices hearing oral arguments in the case of Donna E. Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services vs. Margaret Whitecotton. Maggie's parents are fighting for their daughter's right to receive compensation under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 because Maggie's DPT vaccine seizure reaction falls within guidelines approved by Congress in 1986.

Government Says Maggie, Not the Vaccine Was to Blame - Maggie was a healthy baby who developed normally even though her head size at birth was at the low end of the head circumference size chart. Within 6 hours of her third DPT shot she suffered her first seizure, followed by a series of seizures 30 hours later. After her vaccine reaction she stopped developing normally and, today, Maggie is severely brain injured with multiple handicaps that make her totally dependent on her parents for daily care. Shalala, together with HHS doctors and U.S. Department of Justice lawyers, contend that Maggie should not receive federal compensation because her head was smaller than normal at birth and she would have been brain damaged even if she had never gotten a DPT shot.

Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT) which operates the National Vaccine Information Center, and the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the National Tuberous Sclerosis Association and the Center on Disability and Health filed an amici curiae brief in support of Maggie's right to receive compensation for her vaccine injuries.. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents pediatricians in private practice who give children such as Maggie DPT shots everyday, filed a brief supporting Shalala and her attempt to take compensation away from Maggie.


On Mar. 10, the U.S. House of Representatives approved GOP-sponsored legislation to limit the amount of damages consumers can collect for injuries caused by defective products and medical malpractice. In a vote of 265 to 161, 45 democrats joined Republicans to approve H.R. 1075, the "Common Sense Product Liability and Legal Reform Act of 1995." The bill sets a national cap on punitive damages to punish manufacturers , including drug companies, for misconduct to $250,000 or three times the economic damages.

Amendments Protect Negligent M.D.'s and Drug Companies - The American Medical Association (AMA) was able to get an amendment tacked onto the bill that limits awards for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000. Another amendment bars punitive damages for manufacturers of drugs and medical devices approved by the FDA. Earlier in the week, the House approved legislation to force consumers to settle product liability lawsuits against manufacturers and medical doctors out of court by requiring a party to pay an opposing party's legal expenses if it rejects an offer and then fails to win at least as much as that offer in court.

Consumer Groups Oppose Bill - The majority of Democrats opposed the bill as did a coalition of trial lawyers and consumer groups including the Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, the National Women's Health Network and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the bill becomes law, low and middle-income citizens would be economically prevented from seeking justice in the court system when they have been injured by defective products or incompetent medical doctors. Manufacturers and medical doctors would no longer be held fully accountable in the courts for the safety of their products or irresponsible actions and it would remove most incentives for them to make safer products and treat consumers with care.


On Mar. 6, President Clinton announced he will create a presidential advisory committee to study the cause of illnesses plaguing Gulf War veterans and their children. Clinton's action comes on the heels of a report by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs chaired by Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) charging the Pentagon exposed Gulf War soldiers to dangerous experimental vaccines and drugs without their knowledge or consent. Gulf War veterans were given the investigational drug pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve agent, together with toxic bacterial vaccines and now many suffer from immune system and neurological damage including extreme fatigue, memory loss, joint pain, seizures, personality changes, vision and breathing difficulties and some have had babies who are deformed or have died.

Botulinium and Anthrax Injected into Soldiers - The report details how soldiers were ordered to receive multiple injections of experimental vaccines without being informed what kind of vaccine they were receiving or the potential risks. Medical records were seldom kept on which vaccines were given, making it impossible to track side effects. Those who attempted to refuse the vaccines were threatened with court martial.

According to the report, before going to fight the Gulf War many soldiers were injected with botulinum toxoid, an unapproved vaccine to theoretically protect against several neurotoxins present in botulism, a bacteria which causes food poisoning. Stored lots of the vaccine had been manufactured by the Michigan Department of Health nearly 20 years earlier and the few studies that had been conducted decades ago had revealed many adverse reactions.

Another experimental vaccine to theoretically prevent anthrax, a bacterial infection in cattle and sheep that can spread to humans who come into contact with infected animals, was given to many support troops. Rockefeller's report states that anthrax vaccine should continue to be considered as a potential cause for undiagnosed illness in Persian Gulf veterans because more support personnel received anthrax vaccine than did combat troops and the Pentagon believes the incidence of undiagnosed illnesses in support troops may be higher than in combat troops.

Violation of Nuremberg Code - Comparing the Pentagon's "reckless disregard for the health and well-being of U.S.servicemembers" in the Gulf War to gas chamber experiments using teenage sailors and soldiers in the 1940's, radiation experiments on soldiers in the 1940's to 1960's, and LSD experiments in the 1970's, Rockefeller's report suggested that the Department of Defense violated the ethical standards established in the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki and the Common Rule by, in effect, conducting inappropriate medical experiments on the Gulf War soldiers. Rockefeller called on Congress to establish a centralized database for all federally funded experiments involving humans as well as establish a National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects to investigate potential violations of human rights in federally funded research.


Zeroing in on the little known fact that rubella vaccine was originally derived from tissue taken from the lung cells of an American fetus deliberately aborted in the 1960's, a leading Catholic high school in Britain withdrew from a nationwide rubella vaccination program last year. The high school, Ampelforth College, North Yorkshire, announced it would not allow its students - all boys - to receive the rubella vaccine.

A statement by the Benedictine headmaster said, "We believe that now is the time to ensure that the products of abortion are never again used for medical purpose. We must now give witness to the values for which we stand." However, Britain's public health service and the Linacre Center for Health Care Ethics encouraged all Catholic parents to have their children, especially girls, vaccinated against rubella.

Rubella is a very mild 24-hour disease in children and natural immunity is permanent. However, rubella can be dangerous to some - but not all - developing fetuses if a mother is infected with rubella during the first three months of pregnancy. Babies with congenital rubella can have defective hearts, be deaf, blind and brain damaged. Rubella vaccine can cause chronic arthritis as well as, in less common cases, cause neurological and immune system damage.

The rubella vaccine currently used in the U.S. and in most countries was developed after an American researcher at the Wistar Institute cultured rubella virus from a fetus aborted because the mother was infected with rubella. This vaccine is called RA 27/3 because the rubella virus was isolated from the 27th aborted fetus sent to the Wistar Institute in the 1964 rubella outbreak. Researchers were unable to culture rubella from the tissues of the first 26 fetuses sent to Wistar, which had been aborted by doctors because the mothers had rubella during pregnancy. The Catholic school headmaster in Britain commented, "Might there be an obligation to refuse to consent to rubella vaccination in order to discourage the demand among biomedical scientists for fetal tissue from aborted babies?"


Ruling that actress Melissa Leo should not be denied custody of her seven year old son because she refuses to vaccinate him and provides him with homeopathic alternative health care treatment, a New York judge denied the request of the child's father, actor John Heard, to have custody transferred to him.

Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob said, "There are differing schools of thought in the medical community concerning the routine immunization of children and it is no secret that there are risks involved. While our society has found immunization generally to be beneficial to our children's health and promotes vaccination to the general population to prevent illness and epidemics, that is not to say that in all cases a parent's decision not to immunize a child may be interfered with. Here, there is no evidence that [the child] has been seriously threatened by or that he is in imminent physical danger."

Melissa Leo was most recently featured as Detective Kay Howard in the television series, "Homicide: Life on the Street" and John Heard is best known as Kevin's father in the box-office hit "Home Alone." Heard had maintained he should be given custody of his son, even though the child had lived with his mother since birth, because Leo was endangering the child's life by withholding vaccinations and seeking alternative health care therapies. The court said the child's well being had not been impaired because of the independent health care choices his mother made for him.


A form of epilepsy, Rasmussen's encephalitis, appears to be caused by abnormal immune system activity resulting when a person's immune system attacks his own brain cells. According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, it is the first indication that a form of epilepsy is actually an autoimmune disease in which the immune system turns on the host to attack normal tissue instead of attacking germs or abnormal tissue.

Rasmussen's encephalitis often strikes children under ten and causes severe, frequent epileptic seizures eventually leading to paralysis and mental retardation. Out of the estimated 2.5 million Americans affected with some form of epilepsy, Rasmussen's accounts for fewer than one percent of all cases. About 2,000 cases of Rasmussen's have been diagnosed in the U.S. in the 40 years since it has been recognized as a distinct disease.

Many vaccine injured children have frequent epileptic seizures. Doctors don't know why the numbers of adults and children affected by autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some forms of diabetes have been increasing in the past four decades. There is increasing evidence that the immune and neurological systems are linked in ways not yet understood by medical science.


Last month a Florida jury awarded $12 million to a 38-year old man who got Guillaine Barre Syndrome and became paralyzed in 1989 after receiving a flu shot. The man had sued vaccine manufacturer Connaught Laboratories, seller E.R. Squibb & Sons and distributor Henry Schine, Inc. for not warning people that the vaccine could trigger a return of Guillaine Barre Syndrome in individuals who had suffered a bout with Guillaine Barre Syndrome earlier in life. As a child, the man had Guillaine Barre, a neurological and immune system disorder characterized by nerve paralysis, but had recovered by age 20. The jury agreed that people who receive flu vaccine should be warned about side effects.


Following is the current listing of DPT and DPTH vaccine lots published by NVIC/DPT which are associated with the highest numbers of deaths, injuries and hospitalizations reported to the government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. While certain lots of vaccine are associated with more adverse event reports than others, all lots of DPT vaccine have the potential to cause death or injury due to neurotoxins in the pertussis bacteria present in the vaccine. However, the following lots may be especially toxic:

  • DPTH - any six digit number starting with 380, 358, 372, 374, 360 or 366
  • Specific Lot Numbers: - 3B-51020; 3C-51043; 3F-51124; and 4G-51020.


Before the Miss America pageant that crowned her the new Miss America, Heather Whitestone gave an interview to the Birmingham News in her home state and candidly talked about how she became deaf after a serious reaction to a DPT shot at 18 months old. Heather's Mom also talked to The Star and other broadcast and print media about how Heather reacted to her DPT shot with a high fever and then came down with an infection that brought her young daughter close to death.

But within hours after the Miss America pageant, a horrified medical establishment moved quickly to publicly dispute any connection between Heather's deafness and the DPT vaccine and instead blame her deafness on a bacterial infection for which there now is a vaccine - Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib). The American Academy of Pediatrics searched out and found a doctor who had been part of the Alabama medical group that treated Heather as a toddler. The doctor publicly insisted there was no connection between Heather's deafness and the DPT shot and that Heather had suffered a severe case of Hib disease that coincidentally occurred around the time of her DPT shot.

Recently Vaccinated Children Get HIB - Analyses of individual reports made to the government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System during the past two years reveal a significant number of four to eight year old children coming down with Hib disease within one to four weeks of vaccination. These reports are reminiscent of the reports of invasive bacterial infection, specifically Haemophilus influenzae b infection, within one to four weeks of acellular pertussis vaccination in the Swedish vaccine trials in the 1980's. There has long been speculation that vaccination may temporarily suppress the immune system and leave recently vaccinated individuals vulnerable to infections, from otitis media to more severe infections such as Hib.

Whether or not Heather Whitestone's deafness is connected to the DPT vaccine, there can be no doubt that the American medical establishment went to extraordinary lengths to publicly challenge Heather and her mother in order to avoid having to acknowledge DPT vaccine risks. At a National Vaccine Advisory Committee meeting held several weeks after she was crowned, one doctor suggested that the "public relations problem" surrounding the new Miss America could be fixed by persuading Heather to become a "poster child" to promote vaccination for the government.


National Vaccine Information Center
Barbara Loe Fisher, Editor
407 Church Street, Suite H.
Vienna, VA 22180

Published bi-monthly by the National Vaccine Information Center operated by Dissatisfied Parents Together (NVIC/DPT), a national, non-profit, educational organization dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education. Subscriptions are $18 annually.

Co-Founder & President: Barbara Loe Fisher Co-Founder & Director: Kathi Williams


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