The truth about vaccinations

Shortly after Kimberly Haslett's son was given his MMR vaccination, he became sick and stopped talking. Later he was diagnosed as autistic.

The truth about vaccinations

CREATED Feb 22, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala
Web Producer: Chuck Meyer

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – It’s a growing debate.  Do you vaccinate your child or not?  Is there a link between vaccines and autism?  9OYS spoke with both sides of the debate.

Kimberly Haslett sat down with 9OYS to share her story and to explain why she believes a childhood vaccination caused her son to develop autism.

Haslett explained her son, Jet, was born a healthy baby.  She points to photos to illustrate the fact that he was always happy and loved to smile. 

“Always laughing, just a normal typical child,” Haslett said reflecting on Jet’s first years of life.

She explained her son was walking and talking, “right on schedule,” she stated, “he was just perfect.”
At 17-months, Haslett took her son to get his measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

“He got his MMR shot and he changed overnight,” she explained.

Haslett recalls four hours after the vaccine; her son ran a fever and was extremely cranky.  She shared with 9OYS photos of Jet after the vaccine.  Pointing to his eyes and said it was like, “the lights went out.”

“He never spoke another word after that day for three years,” she said.

A year later, Jet was diagnosed with Autism.  Haslett said she was in denial, which is why she said it took so long for him to be tested and ultimately diagnosed.

“I'm one of millions and we're not all wrong,” said Haslett, “I know what caused my son's autism.”

There are thousands of blogs and websites online of parents sharing stories similar to Haslett’s. 

9OYS asked Haslett, how she felt about doctor’s refuting a link between vaccination and autism.

“They’re lying.  They’re absolutely lying,” she responded.

Dr. Rodrigo Villar, a pediatric hospitalist at Tucson Medical Center, was happy to meet with 9OYS to dispel such concerns.

“Vaccinations have been tested in millions of children and just like any therapy there are always risks and benefits,” he answered when asked about side-effects of vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, side-effects are typically minor and may include, fever, mild rash and soreness at the injection site.  It said on race occasions, more serious effects include seizures and allergic reactions.

“The risk of vaccines is very minimal compared to the risk of diseases that their children can get,” said Dr. Villar in regards to concerned parents.

9OYS asked Dr. Villar why so many parents have said their children started to show signs of autism immediately following a vaccine.

“Unfortunately, autism is usually detected by parents around the same time that we give vaccines, so a lot of people worry that's what causes it,” he answered.  “There have been many many studies that show that there is not a link established with any of the vaccinations.”

On the same note, Dr. Villar said there is not evidence that supports what these parents are saying.  He says there is no study that shows a clear link to vaccines causing autism.

The Centers for Disease Control validated his information in this statement.

“Scientific studies and reviews have found no relationship between vaccines and autism.  Groups of experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine, also agree that vaccines are not responsible for the number of children now recognized to have autism.”

9OYS didn’t stop asking questions, there.  We went looking on our own and found there was one study linking vaccine to autism.  However, that study was retracted in 2010.

An investigation published by the British medical journal concluded the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of his patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study. 

Wakefield has been quoted as saying his work has been “grossly distorted.”

With medical science behind him, Dr. Rodrigo Villar stands by what he believes is the truth about vaccines.

“Parents who vaccinate their children are protecting their children,” he said.

Haslett stands by that her son’s life is evidence enough for what she believes to be the truth.

“If I knew then what I knew now,” said Haslett, “he would never have had that shot.”