When Susan Lawson of Colorado hears parents declaring, unequivocally, that everyone should vaccinate their children because it’s perfectly safe, she says it feels “like a punch in the gut.” That’s because she’s seen another side of the story: Her daughter Julia, now 9, was left with permanent brain damage — an injury acknowledged by a federal court payout — after receiving her MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) shot when she was a year old.
Lawson tells Yahoo Parenting that one morning, about a week after Julia received the shot, her now-ex-husband found their daughter in a terrifying state. “She was blue and cold and her body was arched, her eyes were looking in opposite directions, and she was covered in feces and vomit,” she recalls. “We thought she was dead.” She was rushed to the hospital, where doctors said she was having seizures, and she was put into a medically induced coma. Julia spent many days in intensive care and the neurology ward before being sent home with the diagnosis of encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
Lawson, a veterinarian who had the utmost faith in medicine, had never before questioned vaccinations, and had always inoculated Julia right on schedule. But now she began to wonder. Hospital doctors dismissed any thought of a connection. But when Lawson asked a pediatrician about it, she was told it could be a possibility. Every family featured in this story received a payment by the United States Court of Federal Claims, which concluded that their rare injuries were caused by the vaccines.