Media coverage of the vaccination issue in Maine has failed to show both sides of the equation. I want to share my personal story in the hopes of shedding some light on why some parents decide to vaccinate their children under different protocols.

My wife and I were parents of a 2-month-old daughter who died, 28 years ago, just 36 hours after receiving her first set of vaccinations, including the DPT shot.

Our daughter was a healthy, vibrant baby, weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces at birth, receiving an Apgar score of 9, exceeding all growth markers from her birth until her death. When we questioned the need for these vaccinations so early in her life, we were told that it was the medically established protocol. We were never provided any options or information about potential side effects. We were new parents; we trusted the system.

After her death, her doctor secured the remaining quantities of the DPT vaccination serum for possible testing of the serum for potential imperfections. Inquiries to the State Medical Examiner’s Office, the Maine Center for Disease Control and the federal Centers for Disease Control regarding the testing of the serum were rebuffed as unnecessary and potentially problematic for the vaccination regiment being implemented throughout the country. We were told it was time for us to move on.

As a result we were left with the saddest of diagnoses, no known cause of death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There is not a person who will ever convince us that those vaccinations did not play a significant, contributing factor in our daughter’s untimely death.

A study of 103 babies who died of SIDS, by Dr. William Torch of the University of Nevada School of Medicine at Reno, found that more than two-thirds had been vaccinated with DPT prior to their deaths. Of those babies, 6.5 percent died within 12 hours; 13 percent within 24 hours and 26 percent within three days. The remaining babies died within three weeks of receiving the DPT shots. Torch also found that SIDS frequencies have a bimodal-peak occurrence at 2-4 months, the same age when the initial doses of DPT are administered.


In 1990, the SIDS death rate in the United States was 130.3 deaths per 100,000 births, at the same time the whole cell pertussis vaccine was being administered. In the late 1990s, the A-cellular or benign antigens pertussis vaccine began being administered, and the rate of SIDS deaths by 2013 was 39.7 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published April 1, 2015.

Several infants died in Mexico last month, with 31 others hospitalized as a result of a bacterium-laced vaccination serum for hepatitis and pertussis.

Fortunately, my wife and I had two other children, both similarly healthy, with similar growth progression. Neither of them had the vaccinations so early in their lives and neither ever had the DPT shot. We did not start vaccinations until after they were 9 months old and they never had multiple injections at any one time.

We were very diligent, caring parents; our doctors understood our concerns, respected our feelings and beliefs and supported our philosophical decision on this changed protocol.

Every school, every public institution they attended or participated in, from pre-K to college, equally respected those rights and never questioned our decisions.

Every day, thousands of children whose vaccination status is unknown flood our southern borders. We do not dare discriminate against those children; we routinely place them in our public schools regardless of a vaccination history.


I do not wish a child’s death on any parent. I ask that people have some compassion for the wrenching decisions that my wife and I had to make as a result of our daughter’s death. They were not easy decisions and were not made without a great deal of contemplation and consultation with our medical providers.

People who believe that healthy babies, like our daughter, simply die for no known cause, regardless of the circumstances, can dismiss our concerns or issues with potentially problematic vaccinations. I do hope that after hearing what my wife and I went through, people might better understand why we sought a philosophical exemption.

I am not asking for a ban on vaccinations. I am not even suggesting that parents follow the same protocol that we used in limiting vaccinations. Those choices belong to those parents. I do ask that you respect and understand the difficult decisions we parents who have had tragic vaccination reactions have faced.

Rep. Robert Foley, R-Wells, is in his first term in the Maine House of Representatives, serving House District 7, which includes most of the town of Wells.

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