David Waddel  Died Sept. 4, 2007
Vance Walker Died Sept. 15, 2007
Paiytu Ames   Died Oct. 10, 2007

All from the same pediatricians office.


Shot in the dark Heartbroken woman wonders if vaccines killed her infant son

By JoNel Aleccia
Staff writer
December 23, 2007

Federal health officials are reviewing whether routine immunizations
contributed to the deaths of as many as three North Idaho babies this fall,
a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

The agency has requested autopsy reports and medical records for at least
two children and could seek them for a third Kootenai County infant, all of
whom died in September and October, apparently within days of receiving
recommended vaccines.

There's no clear link between the vaccines and the deaths, which were
classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, said Curtis Allen, a
spokesman for the CDC. "There is nothing so far to indicate that there is a
particular problem other than these children died in the same city," Allen

But the mother of one of the children said it's no coincidence that her
4-month-old son died within days of receiving injections to prevent serious
childhood illnesses, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B,
polio, rotavirus and invasive pneumococcal disease.

"My baby was so healthy," said Shelly Walker, 39, of Hayden. "He was
extremely full of life, energy and vitality."

Nevertheless, early on the morning of Sept. 15, less than three days after
Vance Vernon Walker received a round of vaccines at Lakeside Pediatric and
Adolescent Medicine in Coeur d'Alene, his mother awoke to a nightmare.

"It was about 5:15 a.m. I woke up and thought, 'He's not making any noise!'
" Walker recalled. "I went to pick him up and then I screamed."

Her 16 1/2-pound boy was warm and his lips were still pink, but he wasn't
moving. Blood was crusted beneath his eyes, and his clothes and toys were
covered with a bloody froth.

As her husband, Brian, 46, called 911, Walker worked frantically to
resuscitate their child. But in the emergency room at Kootenai Medical
Center, doctors said Vance had been dead for several hours.

"I grabbed my baby in my arms and held him up and I screamed, 'How in the
hell did this happen?' " Walker said. "Was it the vaccines?"

Medical officials from the CDC and the federal Food and Drug Administration
are working to answer that question for the Walkers and for families of two
other babies who died within six weeks of each other.

Two of the deaths have been logged in the voluntary Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System -VAERS - jointly operated by the CDC and FDA, agency
officials said. But Dr. Robert West, the Kootenai County coroner, confirmed
that three infants died this fall within days of immunization.

Parents of the other babies could not be reached for comment.

Autopsies failed to detect any specific vaccine reactions, West said,
forcing a determination of SIDS - a "diagnosis of exclusion," he noted.

He said he welcomes the federal review. "It is a little bit unusual but not
totally unheard of," West said. "It deserves the investigative clout of the

Walker confirmed that her son's death was one of the Idaho cases reported
to VAERS. The other reported child likely was also under the care of the
Coeur d'Alene pediatric group, Allen said. That raises the possibility the
children received vaccines from the same batch.

If the CDC receives three reports of deaths or 10 reports of serious
non-fatal injuries related to the same lot of a vaccine, it launches a
review, Allen said.

In Vance Walker's case, the immunizations included a dose of Pediarix, a
combined vaccine that contains DTaP, hepatitis B and inactivated polio
vaccines. His mother's records indicate the lot number of the vaccine
manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline was AC21B124B.

He also received a dose of Prevnar, lot number B54007C, a vaccine
manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Allen, of the CDC, said it would be up to the medical practice to decide
whether to suspend use of the vaccine. Dr. Brian Hickok, the pediatrician
for Walker's son, did not return calls about the issue. A representative
for the medical practice declined to comment.

Those two vaccines are the most likely to be implicated in any adverse
events, said David Terzian, a Virginia lawyer who specializes in vaccine
injury cases. Terzian said the Walkers have a good chance of receiving
compensation for their son's death through a federal program because it
occurred so soon after immunization, well within the 72 hours required by
federal rules.

Information provided by drug manufacturers and attached to the vaccines
reports low numbers of associated deaths. In 14 clinical trials of
Pediarix, five deaths were reported among 8,088 recipients of the vaccine,
including two cases of SIDS.

In a study of more than 34,000 children in which about half received
Prevnar and half received a control vaccine, a dozen deaths, including five
SIDS deaths, occurred in the Prevnar group. By contrast, 21 deaths occurred
in the control group, including four SIDS deaths, according to manufacturer

Immunization specialists acknowledge that any death following vaccination
is a tragedy. But they emphasize that far more children died or fell ill in
the era before vaccinations.

"For the most part, disease is always going to be more risky than getting a
vaccine," said Nicole Pender, health educator for the immunization program
at the Washington state Department of Health.

That is no comfort to Shelly Walker. She hopes her experience inspires
parents to educate themselves about the risks of vaccines and prompts them
to monitor any reaction, however slight. She plans to file a claim through
the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which provides a maximum
of $250,000 after a vaccine-related death.

In return, all records related to her son's injury and death will be sealed
by the drug manufacturers. Walker is optimistic that they'll use the data
to improve product safety so other families won't experience her tragedy.

"My hope is they're compiling data and statistics to make things better,"
she said. "I'm trying to believe in the inherent goodness of something here."

David Waddel  Died Sept. 4, 2007
Vance Walker Died Sept. 15, 2007
Paiytu Ames   Died Oct. 10, 2007

All from the same pediatricians office.