SANEVax: Heart Broken Moms Offended By AAP Statements on Merck Gardasil
A Sister's Love

The Catch-22 of School-Required Vaccinations

Schoolhouse_clipart1_0 By Donna Laken
This week was my son John's first week back to school, and was also the very first time in his life in which he arrived when school starts in the morning and left when the school day ends.  We have spent the entire past year gradually increasing his time there by 15 minute increments.  He will be thirteen years old in a couple of months.  'First Full Day of School' - not exactly a typical preteen milestone, is it?
My mind is overwhelmed with disbelief when when I look back upon the years and years leading up to this event; years of failed attempts at placements in nearly a dozen different classrooms in half a dozen different schools; the years in which we elected to pull him out of the school district and teach him at home with various autism therapies; the years in which he would attend school for as little as fifteen minutes a day, up to the most successful year, in which he managed a 3.5 hour day.  And sadly, for the area in which we live, John's experience is not all that unusual.  In our neck of the woods, autism services for a child with severe autism roughly amount to receiving a free "I Heart Someone With Autism" sticker along with driving directions to the nearest group home.
So this first full day of school is a huge milestone for John and I am extremely proud of him.  And I am not complaining because I am also painfully aware that there are many children out there who either die following vaccination or who end up even more profoundly disabled and will never, ever be able to attend school.  But I am deeply regretful of the choices I made and the research I chose not to do so many years ago that landed John in this predicament.

After his school physical a few weeks ago, I forced myself to take another close look at John's vaccination record.  From birth to age two (when we stopped vaccinating), his immunization record looks pretty darn impressive to the untrained eye.  If vaccine records were resumes, this kid would have been on a fast track to a high-paying CEO position at a major corporation.  From birth until age two, each and every infant and toddler vaccine was given on time, perfectly on schedule.  Heck, we'd even somehow managed to squeeze in that dreaded RotaShield vaccine in 1999, just two months before they pulled it off the market after reports of intussusception and death.  Yep, he was one incredibly well-vaccinated small child.  My God, what on earth had I been thinking?  Or as my dad used to say to my sisters and I after we'd screwed up as kids, "Were you even thinking at all??"
Looking back now, I guess I was just doing what most every other busy mother does, thinking along the lines of expediency - that he would eventually need all those vaccines in order to attend school, so why not get them done now and according to schedule?  And as far as safety concerns, I wasn't exactly blissfully unaware of vaccine reactions, even when John was a baby.  I don't really have an excuse.  I received all those natural parenting catalogs and magazines in the mail, the ones describing books about vaccination and articles about vaccine safety (or rather non-safety), but after glossing over them and expressing my concerns to family members, I was met with that now familiar blunt reply, "You have to vaccinate!".  

I had Internet access (even back then, with the whistling, screeching dial-up modem, remember that?), but I didn't make a serious effort to actively research vaccine safety.  I skimmed through a few accounts describing serious reactions to DPT shots and I glanced quickly at a piece discussing a connection between vaccines and autism, but I never really looked closely, probably mostly out of fear. I thought to myself, those things happen to other people, people with some sort of genetic or immune problems or people with just plain bad luck.  They could not possibly happen to us.  We were an incredibly healthy family with no medical problems and no family history of genetic disorders or developmental disabilities.  Surely we could handle vaccines.

Tragically, we - he - could not handle them.  Each and every infant and toddler vaccine administered perfectly on schedule transformed our beautiful healthy baby into a child too sick, too confused, and too agitated to ever set foot in a preschool or kindergarten.  Adhering to the vaccine schedule had been all for nothing.  And yet, so much worse than nothing.  And the one glaring truth that continues to haunt me on a daily basis is this:  Having your child's immunizations up to date in order for him or her to attend day care or school becomes a moot point when those very vaccines disable your child so profoundly that he or she is incapable of even attending day care or school.  It all becomes utterly ridiculous.

So here we are, me and a near teenager, preparing for the first full day of school.  Tomorrow morning I will pack John a lunch bag filled with the few remaining foods he's not allergic to.  I'll remember to bring the chewy tube he is supposed to use to divert himself from biting the backs of his hands.  I'll be sure not to forget the noise-cancelling headphones he has to wear when the sounds at school become too intolerable for him.  I'll write in the communication notebook what sort of morning he is having so his teacher and paraprofessional know what to expect, since he cannot verbally tell them - or anyone else - how he feels.  And I'll make yet another effort to warn other parents to please, please carefully research the potentially harmful effects of vaccines before deciding whether or not to accept them for your child.  Even if doing the research seems like too time-consuming a task, I promise you, the time you spend researching will amount to so much less time than it takes for a severely vaccine-injured child to be able to spend an entire day at school.

Donna Laken is the mother of a twelve year old son with autism.


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Thankfully my daughter and I heeded the warning of parents of vaccine damaged children and various internet sites. When my grandaughter was born last year my daughter refused the Hep B in the hospital and has not vaccinated her daughter. I personally have a great-nephew with autism and several of my friends have grandchildren with autism. It is heartbreaking to see what is being done to a whole generation of our precious children! When I read these accounts it literally brings tears to my eyes. I pray that this madness will soon end.


Thank you Donna, for writing this. My stepson was dx with sensory issues after his MMR about 10 years ago... this past week my 3.5 yo daughter began preschool unvaxed, with her exempt letter in her file. I have done, and will continue to do, my research, we feel comfortable with our decision and the risks of not vaxing... because of letters like yours. It makes a difference. Thank you.


I did the same thing you did - I was aware of safety concerns and even believed those who thought that vaccines caused their children's autism. But, looking on the internet, I thought it could be that those kids had some underlying issue that we surely didn't have. And, I really thought I needed them for school. I asked the pediatrician about it and she said that thimerisol was the issue, but that was not removed so we shouldn't worry. I took great comfort in this. It is possible (I'm not sure now) that she even offered to space out the vaccines, but I turned her down because I wanted to get them over with as soon as possible so that I could stop worrying about them and we'd be done with them all together. Brilliant!


At my son's school(I have 3 sons-2 with Autism, 1 with everything but), the Exemption forms are with the school nurse. I live in RI and was told that I cannot get them from The Health Department-just from the school nurse. Yet, somehow, she never has any. She told me that she called around to the other schools in my district and "magically" they don't have any, either. My oldest son is in Middle School and his school nurse didn't even fill it out correctly and I didn't get a copy-she said she never saw one before. (None of the schools knew what Exemption forms were to begin with) So the school nurse had to order them-which I was told she was the only one who could order them(apparantly, as a parent, I have no authority) She finally gets them in and I fill them out. A couple of months later when they start a new grade, she asks me to show proof that they are current with their vaccinations....???!!! So many parents that I have spoken with over the years had no idea that an Exemption form even exists. They feel that they have no choice with vaccinations. Every student in my district just received a bright yellow notice informing every parent of a Flu Clinic...and please bring friends. WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END???!!!


So ironic, Donna, that's for sure.
If this bill in California is not overturned, I see it really biting them in the arse. Kids will be told by their parents (and rightly so) to actively refuse any shots, which could get interesting and God help them when the next Gardasil victim turns up in California; it will not bode well for the people that sanctioned it/pushed for it.


Congratulations on your milestone! And best wishes for your son to have a fabulous school year.


I am assuming that since you stopped vaccinating at age 2, you must fill out the vaccine exemptions to keep your son in the public school system. No one ever tells any of us that we do have that option. At the doctor's office they always say "You can't enroll your child in school unless they are up to date on vaccinations".

And now the vaccine industry wants to put a stop to this option to not vaccinate, and California has passed a law which will go into effect unless it is vetoed by Governor Brown. If the law goes through the vaccine industry will lobby to put this into effect in every state.



PLEASE consider calling or sending an email to Governor Brown regarding this law which has passed but is still sitting on his desk. Give him reasons to VETO this bill before it's too late, because this law will give the state the right to vaccinate children WITHOUT their parent's consent. If this becomes law in California, the vaccine industry will have the green light to hijack all of the other states.

Here is the letter that I wrote, although if you don't have time it would be great if you could simply voice your objection.

Dear Governor Brown,

This is a desperate plea for your recognition of the dangers associated with passing a law that gives the state authority over the parents regarding vaccinations. There are MANY children who have had terrible reactions to vaccines including seizures, paralysis, autism and even death. For these parents and for those parents who have educated themselves and wish to take the road of caution regarding vaccines, this law entirely removes their rights and authority over their own children!!!

My grandson immediately regressed into autism after his last batch of vaccines. Overnight he lost his ability to walk and talk among many other serious documented health damages resulting from those vaccines. Due to this he can NEVER have even ONE more vaccine, and my greatest fear is that IF you allow this law to pass in California, this opens the door to the vaccine industry hijacking the other states. If this law came to our homestate, we would homeschool my grandson rather than endanger his life in the public school system under a law which could literally KILL him. However, my grandson is only one of many thousands of children in this precarious situation, and therefore I am writing this in defense of all of the other children and their families who should, by the constitutional rights of this nation, be able to make decisions regarding their own children's health care and this in fact includes the religious beliefs of many who should also remain protected by their right to Freedom of Religion. Therefore EVERYTHING about this law is WRONG, morally and constitutionally.

POST the link to this alert ON FACEBOOK, blogs, or other social media sites:

Call: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Email Web Form:

REGISTER for the NVIC Advocacy Portal at so you can receive updates.

Our entire country needs to come together and send the state government of California the strong message: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR KIDS! If we let this stand in California, count on this coming to your state next.

Cynthia Cournoyer

This article really hit home for me, and not because I have a vaccine damaged kid, but because I don't. I never vaccinated my kids. Yet I am seriously connected to the vax injury crowd because of my book, and the research that made me choose against them. But, when people read my book it is so very difficult for them to hear what they now know. It hurts me every time I get that feedback. I feel guilty for some reason, that I could have a say in the midst of so much pain they must be feeling. It hurts every time I hear stories like yours, and every time I see or suspect vaccine damage. It is very true that those who quit vaccinating, by definition, once did vaccinate. And at the same time, no first-time pregnant woman will even start to listen to your stories of vaccine damage, or my stories of warning, UNLESS they are inclined to hear it in the first place. I think that is why it is easy not to do the research beforehand, because people constantly yell at you to conform!

The amazing thing is that people who stop vaccinating because it is truly harmful to their already-vaccine-damaged child, are still confronted with pressure to keep vaccinating. This puts you in company with ALL parents who have chosen against vaccines, whenever, and for whatever reason.

Donna, the irony of your article about getting shots for school and then not attending is very powerful. It hurts. It hurts you and other affected families. It hurts all of us that see the injustice of it all. You are doing what you know is right for your child, and for that he is lucky to have you. It is for families like you that I even bother to keep writing and researching. Jeannette Bishop: we keep going because it could be a single person you may influence. Do it for that one person and it won't seem so big. Cynthia Cournoyer.


Amen. You are not alone in your "What was I thinking?" angst, I am there every day with you. But we must shake it off and plunge ahead as we continue to try everything to help our children live the best vaccine injured life they can. Thanks for sharing.

Jeannette Bishop

I relate to so much of your experience, though I didn't make the connection, even with some warning and subtle evidence of harm, and kept dutifully vaccinating my daughter until much later. She makes progress now, but the cost has been great.

Today, the maybe-I-shouldn't-try-anymore feelings reached a new level. It's hard to warn people who don't want to be warned, and on the internet, and sometimes in person, you get feedback from those quite a lot. You probably don't hear much from those who at least give your experience the benefit of the doubt and might because of your message get better informed themselves or at least be better prepared to recognize vaccine injury sooner. I'm trying to hope more of that happens than we know. I still wish now that somehow someone or some understanding of what vaccine injury looks like could have gotten through to me sooner, but maybe the point is eventually it did. Thanks for speaking out.


I think people forget that individuals who are fighting against vaccines are the same ones who at one point were FOR the vaccine, so much so that they chose it for their own child. Many of us have been burned by blindly following our pediatricians' recommendations, only to find out the truth. Unfortunately for some people, and I include myself, it takes being personally affected to WAKE UP.
My son is also not able to attend school for full days. He goes for 3 hours and he's finally, after threats of legal action from me, in 1:1 in a separate room, no other kids, which the school said they would do for a quarter. The grief I feel is unbelievable when I see all of my friends' kids gleefully go to first grade without a care.

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