But Hector Hopper doesn’t play sports anymore. He doesn’t sing or play instruments. He doesn’t take center stage.
After receiving a diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) and varicella vaccine in 2009, Hector has been diagnosed with multiple medical conditions that prevent him from continuing his once vibrant childhood, Dinah Hopper said.
“He has been plagued with total body pain, severe migraine headaches, loss of memory, loss of balance,” she said. “I can’t tell you the amount of tears and anger.”
Dinah Hopper, who has long opposed vaccines, took Hector to receive the tetanus vaccine in July 2009, primarily because his sports coaches preferred players to have the immunization. She said she was less resistant to the tetanus vaccine because it targets bacterial rather than viral infections. So she called ahead to request a purely tetanus vaccine.
Employees at the medical facility, which she declined to name, assured her they could meet her specifications, but Hector’s release papers showed he’d received DTP and varicella vaccines.
“The day of the immunization, his temperature went to 104, and he immediately developed bowel issues,” Dinah Hopper said.
The most common risks of vaccines are irritation at the injection site, fever and fussiness in infants, Rettie said. In 13 years of pediatrics, he said he’s never seen a reaction more severe than those and rarely sees any negative response at all.
But Hector Hopper’s symptoms continued to worsen, Dinah Hopper said. He began experiencing severe body pain, developing food allergies and losing some muscle control and memory.
“I couldn’t get up and walk,” Hector Hopper said. “I really couldn’t do anything for, like, five months.”
Even after the worst symptoms eased, he could no longer attend school and required assistance to walk.
As a single mother with no one else to take care of Hector, Dinah Hopper left her job in the fall of 2009. The pair spent months seeing doctors and specialists, looking for a diagnosis for Hector’s condition, which they believe resulted from the vaccines. He’s now been diagnosed with eosinophilia, a condition resulting from excessive production of a certain type of white blood cell and causing stomach pain, diarrhea and other intestinal issues. He’s also received autism and auto-immune diagnoses, Dinah Hopper said. She said she’s seen about 20 medical professionals, including physicians, physical therapists and specialists.
“Most of them are unwilling to admit that this drastic change was the result of an immunization,” she said.
But three professionals, whom she declined to name, have attributed Hector’s medical problem to the vaccine.
”It just basically wasted two years of my life,” Hector Hopper said. “I already cried enough to fill a whole river.”
Exemptions to the rules
The federal government has awarded more than $2 billion to children and adults injured by vaccines under the National Injury Compensation Program established in 1986, according to the National Vaccine Information Center.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration also co-sponsor the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which allows anyone who has experienced a negative response to a vaccine or witnessed another having such a response to report their experiences.
Since medical professionals and patients alike can report to VAERS, judgments about whether the vaccine truly caused the reaction cannot be made. “Most of those reporting systems are just that, just reporting,” Rettie said. “It really doesn’t actually imply any sort of a causal relationship.” However, VAERS receives about 30,000 reports annually, with 13 percent considered “serious,” according to the CDC.