It was the winter of ’95/’96 and there was another media shit-storm going on. Not poisonous eggs, poisonous cows or invasions of people with brown faces, or even another royal feckin wedding (god help us). No, this time it was all about how our children were all going to DIE from a hideous measles epidemic that was sweeping the nation like a plague sent from hell if us parents didn’t immediately get them all jabbed with the latest Measels, Mumps and Rubella vaccine. Think modern day ‘flu panic with extra pressure. We got letters in the post ‘inviting’ us to bring our children in – even those who had already had both measles and mumps (and cancer as it happens) and if we didn’t do it we would have to live with the horrible consequences of our inaction and be saddled with guilt for the rest of our lousy, rotten, evil, worthless lives.
And it worked I can tell you, I was shitting myself. Andi was 15 months old and up on her feet, talking, smiling, being normal. Legolas (not her real name) was 13 and had already had both these diseases plus something far worse, but still the pressure was on. Legolas (not her real name) dodged this particular bullet as even in my frantic, terrified mental state I could see how illogical it would be to stab someone who had already got their own immune system up and running on both these bad boys. Rubella isn’t a killer in children as far as I know – just not great for foetuses.
Andi wasn’t so lucky.
I can tell you now, if I had listened to my gut instinct (just like the NatWest bank tells us to these days if we get a dodgy phone call) I would never have taken her in. She would not have been vaccinated with the MMR and, who knows, life might have been very different for us. Now I can hear the know-it-alls telling me its just ‘co-incidental’, the vaccine is/was safe, its just fear mongering etc. etc. etc..
Well, fuck that. I was there and I witnessed what happened. The day after the vaccine she began to change. For the next six months if she was awake she was screaming. Did I imagine the hell we fell into? No. And neither did the rest of the family.
Since then I have spoken to many, many parents of children caught in that wave of autism. It was just a coincidence right? We were all just unlucky that some strange quirk of nature brought us all to the same place at the same time. Our stories are just anecdotes right?
But when do enough anecdotes become data?
The most chilling thing I heard was from a lady called Jackie. Her son was born with autism. She knew he wasn’t right, but he was verbal, smiled, and played with his toys. He had a quality of life and so did she. After his MMR vaccine he became a non-verbal, screaming, hitting, head banging, vomiting monster. Jackie (a journalist) decided to investigate what had happened to her son, but the doors began to close all around her. She requested the batch number for his MMR vaccine, but found this information had been deleted from his medical files.. Just another coincidence, right?
Next time: The School run