Transcript - DPT Vaccine Litigation - Evening Magazine - May 18, 1990
DPT Vaccine Litigation
May 18, 19990
Announcer: See how a routine DPT Vaccination may do more harm than good as we talk to a couple and their son, who suffers severe complications from the vaccine.
Woman 1: American babies are routinely given vaccines to prevent disease. However, for some babies, DPT vaccination is causing seizures and brain damage.
Man 1: Andy Nuzzo is one of those children. Besides what other ailments, the vaccine has left him sensitive to light. When we filmed this interview, we had to do it in low light because he is very sensitive to the glare. So that accounts for some of the grey portions that you’ll see right now.
Narrator: The lights in Andy Nuzzo’s house are always kept low. Blinds and heavy black posterboards cover the windows. The sight of bright light or padded material, send Andy into one of up to 2,000 seizures every day. Everything from prolonged transits to convulsions. It’s a bleak existence for a little boy who will celebrate his 4th birthday next month. Andy is brain damaged, but he wasn’t born that way. Andy’s disabilities were cause by a routine immunization that millions of children get each year, Diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus or DPT.
Colleen Nuzzo: And I’m still mad about it because he was normal, he was perfect and now he’s not. It’s irreversible brain damage that he’ll never get what he lost back.
Narrator: Like most babies, Andy’s had his first DPT shot at two months. But then he began crying and screaming, it lasted for days. Two months later, it was time for his second dose of DPT. A few days after that, he had a grand mal seizure.
Colleen Nuzzo: His lights went out, his tongue flew out and at the time we don’t know if his eyes rolled back. I didn’t even know. I just got so scared.
Narrator: After a series of tests and several more Grand Mals, the Nuzzos were told not to give Andy anymore pertussis vaccines. Colleen was convinced that DPT had harmed her son.
Colleen Nuzzo: This just isn’t right, poor little kids have to live like this, you know. And not being able to look out a window and seeing a bird.
Narrator: The problem with DPT lies with the pertussis or whooping cough portion of the vaccine.
Attorney Ken Moll: The shot of DPT is like a loaded gun. One bullet, and you spin the cartridge, and sooner or later, it’s going to come out fire.
Narrator: The part of the vaccine that immunizes children to whooping cough includes an endotoxin.
Attorney Ken Moll: Or bluntly put, it’s a poison.
Narrator: The majority of children vaccinated with DPT have no adverse reactions. But those who do, can suffer damage ranging from mild seizures to total impairment and in rare death.
Attorney Ken Moll: We’re playing Russian roulette out there with our kids.
Narrator: Andy is nearly 4 years old and functions, on average, at 18months of age. He’s just now learning to scribble. He doesn’t speak clearly or in complete sentences and he can never ever be left unattended. Whenever Andy goes outdoors he has to wear dark sunglasses. But even with them, the first shock of sunlight often sends him into a seizure. Once his eyes adjust though, Andy is usually alright. Like all kids, Andy has moods and won’t always wear his glasses. When that happens he goes right into what’s called a photosensitivity seizure like this one. Once his eyes are adjusted from the sun, the difference is astonishing. Andy’s family centers their lives around him. His parents and older sister, Sarah, wear only solid color clothing. Because patterns in jeans, tweeds, and even some sweaters can set off seizures. So do bumbs in a plaster wall and dots on the microwave. Recently, Andy was the beneficiary of about 4.5 million dollar settlement. It won’t cure him but it may, at least, help to make it more comfortable.
Colleen Nuzzo: Well, the first thing we are going to do is customize a house for Andy, to make it safe for him.
Narrator: A normal, healthy life is what the Nuzzo’s wish for Andy. It’s the thing they want the most, and the one thing money can’t buy.
Colleen Nuzzo: It breaks my heart to think about it, it really does.
Woman 1: In 1986, Congress enacted legislation to help victims like Andy. Now parents whose children were injured before 1988 can file for compensation until October of this year.
Man 1: Doctors agree, however, that until manufacturers come up with a safer vaccine, it’s better to use the DPT vaccine for your child rather than risking whooping cough.