Are Vaccines To Blame For Infant Deaths?

SPOKANE — Finding your baby dead in his crib is a horrible image but it was a reality for three North Idaho families who found their infant sons dead last fall.

While the government says there’s no proof the deaths are associated with the vaccines, one local mother is adamant the vaccines killed her baby. Shelly Walker says the vaccinations her son Vance got two days before he died killed him. 

Though the government might be willing to acknowledge Vance’s death and compensate Shelly for her loss it is not willing to accept any blame.

Shelly Walker called  9-1-1 last September 15th after finding her four-month-old son Vance in his crib unresponsive and limp. Blood was crusted under his eyes and a dark foam was coming from his mouth onto the teddy bear blanket lying beside him.

Medics arrived on scene minutes after her 9-1-1 call and rushed Vance to Kootenai Medical Center.

“I kneeled down and yelled into his ear ‘Vance don’t you quit, don’t you give up on me. You fight,” she said. “At that point when I looked up the doctor was shaking his head like that and said that Vance was gone and that he’d been gone for several hours.”

Shelly says she immediately thought of the vaccines Vance received just two days before.

“At that point I don’t know if they had picked him up and handed him to me I just know that I had him in my arms and I held him up and said he was so big and strong and healthy … was this the damn vaccines?  Was this the vaccines?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccines weren’t to blame, and an autopsy marks the cause of death for Vance Walker as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“The bottom line is still that we do not know what causes SIDS and the other bottom line from a number of studies is that vaccines are not the culprit,” Dr. John Iskander with the Centers for Disease Control said.

Several independent scientific reviews from governments around the world claim the same thing, still it’s hard for some to believe considering Vance wasn’t the only one. In all three North Idaho infants would die of SIDS, all baby boys, all in a two month span, and all within one week of getting their four month vaccinations.

The CDC has found nothing wrong with the lots or vaccines injected into to the boys. 

Spokane pediatrician Bob Maixner says it’s merely coincidence SIDS peaks at the same time children receive their first series of shots. 

“If we could eliminate crib death by altering our immunization schedule I think you’d see that happen almost instantaneously,” Maixner said.

Maixner says the theory has been tested and that SIDS rates do not decrease when shots are altered or when children are not vaccinated. Still, Shelly Walker blames the vaccines for her son’s death.

“We know our son definitely died of the vaccines but my husband sings ‘What are we going to go do know?  Go sue the pharmaceutical companies?  Well good luck with that’,” Shelly Walker said.

Now, she and lawyer David Tarzian are filing for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program.  If the government decides Vance suffered a vaccine-related death, it will award the walkers $250,000. But if it’s an apology the Walkers want and they aren’t going to get one.

“They accept no blame for anything occurring. They’re just saying we’ve got a lawsuit, we’re going to settle it, it’s not because of the vaccine, we hold to our position but knowing that fact, we’re going to pay out some money,” David Tarzian said.

Dr. Maixner says that’s because the compensation act was set up to protect doctors facing frivolous lawsuits. When doctors threatened to stop giving vaccines in the 1980s because of the suits, the government recognized the public health risk and started the compensation program.

“As a person who just buried a child, who had a death in their family, it’s going to look like a buyoff isn’t it?  But that’s not how it was set up,” Maixner said.

Since it’s inception in 1988, the government has awarded claims for three vaccine-related deaths in Idaho. Still, the CDC and physicians like Dr. Maixner are convinced vaccinations are the safest route in protecting public health.

“You’re talking about people who have committed their entire professional life to serving children and families. It’s not our job to do harm,” Maixner said.

While Shelly Walker understands those intentions are good, she says its important parents trust their gut and educate themselves on what they’re putting into their child’s body.

“When you don’t have a peace about something, that leaves room for doubt and I don’t want anyone to go through a situation like this ever without knowing the facts,” Walker said.

So here are the facts: Under the government’s recommended vaccine schedule, a child gets his first shot the day he’s born. He’ll get six vaccines at two months, six more doses at four months, and up to seven more doses of vaccines on his six month checkup.

By the age of six, the child will have received vaccinations for up to 14 diseases.

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