As they started their family, Mooresville residents Theresa and Lucas Black dutifully got their children immunized, never doubting their doctor’s word that vaccines are safe and necessary.
But their faith in those promises was shaken in 2001, when their 3-month-old daughter, Angelica, developed life-threatening seizures and brain damage just three days after getting several vaccinations.
The child’s Charlotte neurologist diagnosed her with vaccine-related encephalopathy, or brain injury. And in 2006, the little-known federal “vaccine court” agreed, awarding Angelica nearly $2 million plus about $250,000 a year for medical expenses for the rest of her life.
Despite the ruling that vaccines caused her daughter’s brain damage, Theresa Black said she has felt bullied in recent weeks by reaction to the California measles outbreak that has spread to 16 other states.
Health officials have stressed repeatedly that vaccines are safe, and some people have suggested that parents who choose not to get their children vaccinated are selfish and willfully endangering the lives of others.
“There’s people out there calling for us to get jailed,” Black said. “I am not a freak. I am not trying to endanger anyone’s child. … I actually think vaccinating is a good thing. My problem is I don’t think they are as safe as they could be. … There are bad things that happen.”