Transcript - DPT Vaccine Litigation - Evening Magazine - May 22, 1990
DPT Vaccine Litigation
KDKA-TV (CBS) Channel 2
May 22, 1990
09:37 - 14:52
Mary Robb Jackson, co-host: American infants are routinely given vaccines to protect them from disease, but for some babies one of those injections, the DPT vaccine, has been the cause of debilitating seizures and brain damage.
Jon Burnette, co-host: Four-year-old Andy Nuzzo was one of the children affected adversely by that vaccine. Here is his family's story.
The lights in Andy Nuzzo's house are always kept low. Blinds and heavy black poster board cover the windows. The sight of bright light or patterned material sends Andy into one of up to two thousand seizures every day, everything from prolonged trances to convulsions. It's a bleak existence for a little boy who will celebrate his fourth birthday next month.
Colleen Nuzzo (Andy's Mother): You get out the milk. OK, get it.
J. Burnette: Andy is brain-damaged, but he wasn't born that way. Andy's disabilities were caused by a routine immunization that millions of children get each year: diphtheria pertussis and tetanus, or DPT.
C. Nuzzo: And I still am mad about it because he was normal and he was perfect, and now he's not, you know. And--and it's irreversible brain damage, and he'll nev--he'll never get what he lost back.
J. Burnette: Like most babies, Andy 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.
C. Nuzzo: His legs 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.
J. Burnette: After a series of tests and several more grand mals, the Nuzzos were told not to give Andy any more pertussis vaccine. Colleen was convinced that DPT had harmed her son.
C. Nuzzo: This just isn't right for this poor little kid to have to live like this, you know, and not being able to look out a window and seeing a bird.
J. Burnette: The problem with DPT lies with the pertussis, or whooping cough, portion of the vaccine.
Kenneth B. Moll (Nuzzo's Attorney): The shot of DPT is like a loaded gun with one bullet in it, and you spin the cartridge and sooner or later it's going to come out firing.
J. Burnette: The part of the vaccine that immunizes children to whooping cough includes an endotoxin.
K. Moll: Or, bluntly put, it's a poison.
J. Burnette: 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 cases, death.
K. Moll: We're playing Russian roulette out there with our kids.
Dave Nuzzo (Andy's Father): Now can you do a line up? Do a line up. (Speaking to Andy)
J. Burnette: Andy is nearly four years old and functions, on average, at eighteen months of age. He is just now learning to scribble. He doesn't speak clearly or in complete sentences, and he can never ever be left unattended.
C. Nuzzo: Ok, ready, Bud?
J. Burnette: 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.
C. Nuzzo: He's having one right now. See how he goes down.
J. Burnette: Once his eyes adjust, though, Andy is usually all right.
C. Nuzzo: Good boy.
J. Burnette: 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.
D. Nuzzo: Now let's try the glasses and see how you do here now. OK?
J. Burnette: Once his eyes are shielded from the sun, the difference is astonishing.
D. Nuzzo: OK?
J. Burnette: 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 bumps in a plaster wall and dots on the microwave.
Recently Andy was the beneficiary of a 4.5 million dollar settlement. It won't cure him, but it may at least help to make him more comfortable.
C. Nuzzo: Well, the first thing we're going to do is customize a house for Andy that will be safe for him.
J. Burnette: A normal, healthy life is what the Nuzzos wish for Andy. It's the thing they want the most and the one thing money can't buy.
C. Nuzzo: It breaks my heart to think about it. It really does.
D. Nuzzo: Good boy. (Footage is shown of Andy and Dale playing outside.)
J. Burnette: In 1986 Congress enacted the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act for victims like Andy. By the way, parents of children who were injured before 1988 can still apply for compensation until October of this year.
M. Jackson: But we do want to note, however, that most doctors agree that until drug manufacturers come up with a safer vaccine, that it's better to have your children vaccinated with DPT than to risk their getting whooping cough.