Locals gathered at the health food store to talk about their fears of vaccines.
When Carson Smith was just 2 days old, he died in his mother's arms. While the doctors told her it was because he had complications during breastfeeding, Cassandra Smith's believed it was directly related to the routine vaccines he recieved after being born.
"Every time he got a vaccine, he had a reaction," she said. "Like large, red spots at the injection site, a fever over 105 degrees or screaming all night long. I told the pediatrician that the shots were doing something to him, but they always said it was something else. Finally I said enough. I know my son."
Cassandra Smith stopped vaccinating Carson, and when she had her youngest, Ashton, she chose not to vaccinate him either. After witnessing Carson's reactions — according to her, he regressed at 15 months old, stopped hitting his milestones and didn't talk again until he was 3 years old — she decided against the standard, medically recommended vaccinations.
Smith was among a group of people who attended a seminar about safe vaccinations that was hosted Sept. 26 by Vaxxed and held at Love Whole Foods. Vaxxed is a bus that is currently on a national tour promoting the film, "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe," which is about an investigation into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's destruction of a study linking autism to the MMR vaccine.
The movie focuses on Dr. Brian Hooke, who confessed to omitting data in 2013 from a study on the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and its link to autism. It includes interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians and parents of vaccine-injured children, such as Cassandra Smith.
According to the CDC's website, the MMR vaccine side effects commonly include a sore arm from the shot, fever, mild rash and temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women who did not already have immunity to the rubella component of the vaccine.
The site does report that the MMR vaccine has been linked with a very small risk of febrile seizures (seizures or jerking caused by fever), but they are not associated with any long-term effects. It also states that some people may experience swelling in the cheeks or neck. The MMR vaccine rarely causes a temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder that usually goes away without treatment and is not life threatening.
In an extremely rare case, a person may have a serious allergic reaction to MMR vaccine. Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of MMR vaccine, should not get the vaccine. The CDC still maintains that getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.
But people, such as Ormond Beach resident Nancy Betcher, still want to get all the information they can to make their own decisions regarding vaccines.
"I'm torn," she said. " I grew up in an age where small pox and polio were still out there, and the shots for those were wonderful. I would be all for vaccinations if they didn't have the toxic stuff. Those are doing more harm than good."
Cassandra Smith says that though she's chosen not to vaccinate, she understands why people do.
"I felt the same way they did," she said. "I was in their shoes. They always say vaccine injuries are one in a million, and both of my sons were that one in a million. It's just not a risk I'm willing to take."
For more information on Vaxxed, visit vaxxedthemovie.com. For more information on the CDC's take on vaccine safety, visit cdc.gov/vaccinesafety.