Part One: State-sanctioned vaccines come with risk

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

A new state law is taking effect this school year and it’s forcing hundreds of thousands of Hoosier kids to bump-up their vaccine requirements.

Although health officials have praised this new law, Tuesday night we showed you the other side through Stephani Mark’s story.

Back in 1973, when then two-month-old Mark received her first Pertussis vaccination, her parents noticed something was horribly wrong when they returned home.

"Wherever she was she would just drop. Standing, sitting, walking upstairs," said Mark’s mother, Patti Spice.

It was the first of what soon became too many grand mal seizures to track.

"We had what seemed like a lifetime of seizures,” Spice said. “Many, many...If you add that up, ten a month is 120 a year."

Thirty-seven-years-later, the hospital visits, medical bills, and sheer volume of paperwork have taken their tolls. But a direct link between the vaccine and Mark's condition was ignored through years of medical paperwork.

"She was given a second immunization the following month," Spice said.

That was, until a University of Chicago clinic discovered otherwise. So in light of the new Indiana law aimed at giving more vaccines to more kids, Spice felt the need to speak out.

"I really wanted to pack it up and head down to Indianapolis and say, ‘you can't do that,’" she said.

But the law says it can and will require three additional immunizations for every sixth through twelfth grade student, starting this school year.

Those vaccines are:

*The MCV4 vaccine for meningitis

*A second Varicella vaccine to prevent chickenpox

*The T-DAP vaccine - for diseases including whooping cough, a vaccine similar to the one that affected Stephani.

"It should be up to the parents to decide what the government's going to put into your child's body," said Stephani’s father, Jack Spice.

But for the last 18 months, thousands of students have taken a ride up to the St. Joseph County Health Department to update their state-sanctioned vaccinations. Health Department official Barb Baker estimates that number to be about 26,000 students receiving multiple shots—each coming with a potential risk.

"You have to weigh the benefits versus the risk,” Baker said. “No parent wants to loose a child because they didn't give them the medication that could have prevented it."

But sometimes the effects of that medication can make for a lifetime of hard shoes to fill.

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