Lisa Jillani, director, PAVE:

I had been a vegetarian for about a year when I became pregnant with my first child. While I was pregnant I was very careful about what I ate and was so concerned about the health of my unborn child that I never allowed myself to become upset or even to dwell on negative thoughts. I never even took an aspirin. I quit coloring my hair, and tried to stay away from second-hand smoke. I took vitamins and did everything I could to be healthy. I was fanatical.

When my water broke and labor did not progress I was put in the hospital and induced with pitocin (a possible culprit for autism). Since my daughter was induced she was a poor nurser and not knowing where to turn for information and assistance I gave up on breastfeeding after about 4 months and put my baby on soy formula. Because I wanted my child to be healthy and because vaccination was something you had to do to keep a child from getting a horrible childhood disease, I went promptly to the two-month check-up, although with reservations but not knowing where to go for information on the possible adverse effects of vaccination (no internet at that time!). I had read in an old PETA newsletter about a gold medal olympian and his fashion model wife who did not vaccinate their child because they considered it "unhealthy, unnecessary and unethical". What did they know that I didn't? But where did a parent go for information?

I asked the doctor who held the needle poised at my daughter's leg what he thought about vaccination. He mentioned a few points but I remember him saying, "The benefits outweigh the risks." I asked him if he would vaccinate his own kids and he said, without looking me in the eye, "Yes. My own children are vaccinated." With that he proceeded to inject my healthy newborn with 3 vaccines. My poor baby began to cry and I felt terrible that the needle hurt her, yet I was somewhat relieved that she would now be "safe" from disease. However, the reservations were still there.

I took her for 2 more appointments and each time I was given the VIS sheets that downplayed the risks and dwelt on the benefits. Still with reservations I signed each consent sheet. I cringed with each set of shots but still had no information to prove I was doing the wrong thing.  I will forever regret not trusting my mother's intuition.

I had postponed the 4th set of shots because I just didn't feel right about it but *still* had no concrete information on which to base my decision. After all, the pediatrician said they were safe and a pediatrician would never do anything to harm a helpless baby, right? Because I had postponed the 4th set my daughter was behind on her shots and, with a disgusted tone to her voice because of my tardiness, the nurse said we would have to "catch her up." That day my 23 month-old daughter received 4 shots and a TB test. As she screamed I removed a stuffed Barney doll from a bag and handed it to her in order to distract her. She clutched Barney and screamed his name over and over. Was she hoping Barney would come to life as he did on tv and save her? To this day I imagine that's what she was thinking and imagine all the fear she had when Barney could not save her as her mommy was sitting by as each needle went into her skin. Have I forgiven myself? Sometimes I feel like I have. Sometimes I feel I don't deserve forgiveness.

I told my husband after that 4th set of shots that I would never have my daughter vaccinated again. I couldn't prove it was harmful but I refused to continue unless I got some answers.

During the next preschool year (about 11 months after my daughter's last set of shots) my daughter's teacher started noticing red flags in her behavior and asked if I would mind if some specialists came in to observe her. Still wanting the best for my child I agreed. To cut a long story short, 3 months later my daughter was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction, what later became part of the autism spectrum disorders (medical professionals disagree on whether or not it is part of the spectrum but I believe it is). The two Ph.D.'s who diagnosed my daughter could not explain what sensory dysfunction was and had no literature on it so I had to do my own research. I could find nothing on SID; all my daughter's symptoms turned up in literature on autism.

Now desperate to find information on the adverse effects of vaccinations, I went as a last resort to a local healthfood store and found a book called "Vaccines: Are They Really Safe & Effective?" by Neil Miller. I remember reading it with horror and screaming into my pillow, knowing what I had let happen to my child.

Because we couldn't afford it we sought no treatment for our daughter. And probably because we felt the mainstream medical establishment had done enough already. I kept her on a vegetarian diet and gave her supplements, especially those that aided brain function. When she was 6 years old I saved my money and took her to a classical homeopath. Three days after taking her first remedy her appetite soared. Before then, she ate the same amount (or less) as her two year-old sister.

She is now nine and has been slowly improving on classical homeopathy and prayer. I know she will one day be cured. I've dedicated my life to warning others about the adverse effects of vaccination so that no other mother will live with the guilt I've had to live with and so no other child will be that so-called "one in a million" who is harmed by vaccination.

Lisa Jillani, director, PAVE

People Advocating Vaccine Education