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The Risk of Immune Disorders from Vaccines

If you are considering getting yourself or your child vaccinated against the flu, Hepatitis, or any of the other common conditions for which vaccines are now readily available, you may have questions about potential side effects or adverse vaccine reactions.  While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that vaccines are generally safe – and that the risks of vaccination are much lower than the risks of choosing not to immunize – many common vaccines are widely-known to have associations with certain rare but dangerous medical conditions.

These medical conditions include various types of immune disorders. While scientists continue to debate the exact cause of the onset of these conditions, many medical experts believe that they can be vaccine-related.  Before being vaccinated, it is advisable for patients to speak with their physicians about potential risks or side effects that may occur.

An immune disorder is a type of disease that attacks the body’s immune system, causing either abnormally-low (immune deficiency) or heightened (autoimmune) activity. Immune deficiency diseases make it harder for the body to fight off infections. In the case of an autoimmune disease, the immune system’s hyperactivity causes it to damage healthy tissue throughout the body.

Immune Disorders Possibly Linked to Vaccinations

There are numerous immune disorders, many of which have been linked to vaccinations. These include:

  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
  • Connective Tissue Disorder
  • Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS)
  • Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura
  • Kawasaki Disease
  • Lupus
  • Neuromyelitis Optica

Vaccines Believed to be Linked to Immune Disorders

Scientists have established possible links between immune deficiency and autoimmune disorders and a number of different vaccines. Vaccines that may cause immune disorders include, but are not limited to:

  • Annual flu shots
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines
  • Tetanus shots, including Tdap and DtaP

Allergic and Adverse Vaccine Reactions

Adverse reactions can occur when the immune system overreacts to the introduction of a foreign substance into the body. While immune reactions can result from eating specific foods or breathing in certain particles, adverse reactions may also result following vaccination. Common symptoms of adverse vaccine reactions such as the annual flu shot include:

  • Diarrhea or blood in the stool
  • Difficult breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Hives
  • Pale skin or redness in the skin
  • Redness and swelling
  • Stomach cramping
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

Severe adverse vaccine reactions can cause anaphylaxis, also called anaphylactic shock. While cases of anaphylaxis can range from mild to severe, individuals experiencing anaphylaxis should be monitored—as emergency medical treatment may become necessary in some cases.

Autoimmune Disorders After a Vaccine

Autoimmune disorders cause the immune system to attack healthy tissue and cells instead of doing its job of fighting off infections. Autoimmune disorders can affect all parts of the body, from the skin and joints to the spinal cord and brain. While autoimmune disorders resulting from vaccinations are rare, the following autoimmune conditions have been linked to vaccinations:

Blood Conditions Related to Vaccines

In rare cases, vaccines may cause blood conditions such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). ITP occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy blood platelets in the body. This prevents the blood from clotting appropriately, and this can lead to both excessive bleeding and excessive bruising. Common signs and symptoms of ITP include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Blood in the stool or urine
  • Easy or excessive bruising
  • Nose bleeds
  • Superficial bleeding that appears as tiny reddish-purpose spots on the skin (usually on the lower legs)
  • Unusually-heavy menstrual flow

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura has been linked to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in some cases. The CDC notes that ITP, “can happen after both natural measles infection [and] after getting the MMR vaccine.” ITP resulting from MMR vaccinations is most common in children (with an estimated rate of one diagnosis per 40,000 vaccinations), but it is a risk for adults as well.

Bowel Conditions Following a Vaccination

Bowel conditions following vaccination can range from mild to severe. Mild conditions (most commonly diarrhea) are relatively common and will typically go away on their own within 24 to 72 hours. However, more-serious conditions can have lasting effects, and can present a risk of death in some cases.

Intussusception is a condition that occurs when a section of the intestine folds or slides into an adjacent section. While intussusception is usually treatable, it can be fatal if left untreated. The Mayo Clinic and other sources recommend seeking medical treatment promptly if severe abdominal pain is experienced following a vaccination.

Children are more likely to experience intussusception than adults. Children who are experiencing abdominal pain due to intussusception may draw their knees into their chest, or cry loudly. Vomiting blood or red mucus or jelly-like stools may all be signs of intussusception.

Conditions That Impact the Brain

Cases of vaccine recipients being diagnosed with brain conditions as a result of vaccination are extremely rare; however, medical science has established a clear link between certain brain conditions and specific vaccines. Examples of brain conditions that can result following vaccinations (in addition to other potential causes) include:

  • Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) – Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a rare neurologic condition that causes the immune system to attack the myelin that protect the nerve fibers in the brain.
  • Encephalitis and Encephalopathy – Encephalitis is the medical term for inflammation (swelling) of the brain. Encephalopathy describes a number of conditions that negatively impact brain function and that can result from inflammation.
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) – Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is characterized by elevated intracranial pressure which negatively impacts brain function. It can cause severe headaches, blurred vision or loss of vision, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and dizziness—all of which can potentially resolve on their own, or with appropriate treatment.
  • Transverse Myelitis – Transverse myelitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the nerve fibers in the spine, resulting in disruption of the signals flowing to the brain. A diagnosis of TM can result in various effects including: loss of bowel and bladder control; muscle weakness in the arms and legs; numbness, tingling or other sensations throughout the body; and radiating pain.
  • Vasovagal Syncope – Vasovagal syncope occurs when the heart rate slows down resulting in a sudden drop in blood pressure. This drop in blood pressure then often leads to fainting. While vasovagal syncope often is not dangerous on its own, vaccine recipients can suffer severe physical injuries if they faint unexpectedly while standing, walking or driving.

Nerve Conditions

Medical science shows that although rate, nerve conditions may result following vaccination in some instances. Symptoms of nerve damage may vary depending on the nature, severity and location of the injury. The timing of onset can vary as well. The following are all possible signs of nerve damage, particularly when they linger or worsen in the days following vaccination:

  • Burning sensation
  • Loss of feeling
  • Loss of motor function
  • Sharp or severe pain
  • Tingling (or “pins and needles”) sensation
  • Weakness

What to Do if You Believe You Were Effected by a Vaccine

If you or your child began experiencing symptoms of an immune deficiency or autoimmune disorder after receiving a vaccination, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the federal government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP provides individuals who suffer vaccine-related medical conditions the opportunity to obtain no-cost, no-fault compensation without the burden of filing a traditional lawsuit against a hospital, doctor, or pharmaceutical company.

At the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, we provide nationwide legal representation for vaccine claims for immune disorders and other serious vaccine related illnesses.  If you would like more information about how to protect your rights, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced vaccine lawyer.

Leah V. Durant: A Vaccine Injury Lawyer Representing Individuals Nationwide

To schedule a free consultation with vaccine injury lawyer Leah Durant, contact the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC.  If you or a loved one has suffered a vaccine-related immune disorder, compensation may be available at no financial cost to you.  Call (202) 800-1711 or submit an online inquiry to learn whether compensation is available for you.

Learn about common vaccines and potential adverse effects in our Vaccine Health and Safety Manual.


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