DPT vaccines are used to help the body develop resistance to specific
and often life-threatening diseases. The human immune system is designed
to fight against disease and infection by producing antibodies. The body
remembers some diseases and is able to prevent subsequent infection.
For example, a person typically only has chicken pox once during his/her
life. When a child has had chicken pox, s/he may be exposed with little
or no risk to another person who has chicken pox. This is the body's way
of providing resistance to disease.
DPT vaccines work in a similar fashion, helping the body create a
defense system against certain infections. When children or adults are
vaccinated, they are given a substance that causes their body to create
antibodies. These antibodies provide immunity that protects them if they
are exposed to a disease. DPT vaccines frequently consist of a very
light dose of whatever causes the disease that you are being immunized
History demonstrates that DPT vaccines and immunizations have saved
lives. Before the polio vaccination was available --13,000 to 20,000
cases were reported each year in the United States. These days, polio is
virtually extinct in the U.S. Mumps were once a major cause of deafness
in children. Mumps can also cause swelling of the brain, nerves, and
spinal cord and can lead to paralysis, seizures, and fluid in the brain.
Before the mumps vaccination was developed in 1967, approximately
212,000 cases of mumps occurred in the U.S. each year. In 1986 and 1987,
there was a resurgence of mumps with 12,848 cases reported. Efforts to
immunize children against the disease were increased. The Centers for
Disease Control report that cases of mumps have declined with only a
total of 323 cases reported in 2002.
When bad things
happen from DPT vaccines
In some cases, the DPT vaccine comes with injury risk though not from
the active ingredients in the DPT vaccine but from Thimerosal, a
preservative used to increase the shelf life of some DPT vaccines.
Thimerosal, a mercury-containing organic compound, has been used since
the 1930s. Use of Thimerosal decreased after concerns were raised about
the risk of exposing the developing brains of young children to mercury.
In May 2000, the FDA sent a letter to DPT vaccine manufacturers advising
them to find another preservative for DPT vaccines and to reduce or
eliminate the use of Thimerosal.
Research is still being conducted to determine exactly how many children
and adults might have been affected by adverse reactions to the
Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine (MMR), the DTP/DTaP/Td vaccine, Hepatitis
B vaccine, or vaccines for Lyme disease, polio, or varicella (the
chicken pox vaccine). The specter of terrorism raises more concerns
about immunizations that may be required for anthrax and smallpox.
If you or a loved
one has been negatively impacted by vaccine injury, you may have a