The “Flu shot cheerleader” is back with a warning against the anti-vaccine movements

In 2009, Desiree Jennings went viral for saying a flu shot triggered her mysterious illness. Now she has a warning about the anti-vaccine movement.

In the end, a number of doctors concluded that, in the absence any other explanations, Desiree’s bizarre condition could be “psychogenic.” This means that her symptoms were not faked, but rather a result of stress or underlying psychological conditions. She was advised to consult a psychiatrist. A physical therapist mentioned dystonia separately, a neurological disorder of movement that can cause uncontrollable muscle spasms.

Dr. Daniel Freedman is a pediatric neurosurgeon in Austin, Texas. He treats children who have functional neurological disorders, also known as psychogenic disorders.

Desiree posted videos and posts on Facebook to update her family and friends on her condition. She claimed that doctors had diagnosed dystonia, and linked it with the flu vaccine. This diagnosis was not recorded in Desiree’s medical records at the time.

Her story was published in a local paper, local television news reports, and finally national news. Each of these outlets repeated Desiree’s unverified claims regarding the vaccine.

In a first column, a friend and recently hired community blogger at Virginia’s Loudoun Times-Mirror wrote Desiree’s version of the events. In just two days, local NBC TV reporters, CBS, and Fox news stations picked up the story. A segment on the TV tabloid ” Inside Edition“, which showed Desiree’s symptoms, followed. She stomps and then squats. Her arms flail and twist. She nearly falls but doesn’t. Her voice is monotonous, nasal, and her speech is slurred. Desiree walked backwards and all her odd symptoms disappeared. She walks straight, talks normal.

Les Trent, a correspondent for CNN, says that the jerking and twisting is due to uncontrollable muscular contractions. There is no cure.

In less than a week, Desiree’s story went viral. Videos of her TV interviews have been viewed millions of times.

This story, about a cheerleader who was strangely affected by a flu vaccine, was a ratings hit. Deborah Norville, host of “Inside Edition,” called it “one the most talked about stories we have ever had.” However, doctors questioned the story, stating that it was not dystonia .

One of the skeptics was Dr. Paul Offit. He is the director of Children’s Hospital Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center and the co-inventor the rotavirus vaccination.

Offit recalled that he felt bad for Offit when he first watched the video. I thought, “Oh, God, she’s going to have a hard time.”

Desiree didn’t get answers despite her many visits to doctors. She didn’t think they understood. She was unable to eat. She was unable to walk. She was unable to work.

Desiree said, “It was frustrating because the doctors ignored me.” They made me feel like an idiot or a crazy person, or that it was stress.

Desiree felt that others believed her. They said they knew exactly what was wrong with her and that only they could fix it.

Desiree’s story, a pretty cheerleader who was strangely disabled due to a vaccine, was ratings gold. Isadora Kosofsky for NBC News

The media storm surrounding Desiree occurred at a time that the nation was already on edge. It was in the middle of a pandemic, a novel H1N1 influenza that would eventually infect 60 million Americans and kill over 12,000 in that year.

Swine flu brought relief to the anti-vaccine campaign, which suffered in recent times: its leading researcher was discredited; the link between vaccines and autism had been disproven; and the confidence in childhood vaccinations had increased. This new outbreak of swine flu, which was disproportionately affecting children and pregnant women would revitalize the anti-vaccine movement, allowing them to spread their message beyond childhood vaccinations.

A H1N1 vaccination was available by fall. But about 40% didn’t want to get it. Nearly Two-thirds (or ) of U.S. Parents said that they either waited or refused to have their child vaccinated. Some of the hesitation was due to the fear that the vaccine hadn’t been thoroughly tested and that it had been released too quickly. The swine influenza vaccine was manufactured and formulated using the same method as seasonal flu shots. It had also undergone clinical trials. But fears continued.

Jenny McCarthy, a celebrity activist, and Generation Rescue, her organization were the most visible leaders of this new and highly organized online campaign. McCarthy, Generation Rescue founder J.B. Handley, and Stan Kurtz (then-president of the organization) all had autism in their sons, which they claimed was caused by vaccines. The mothers also claimed that their sons had been cured by special diets and biomedical treatments which were not proven.

Kurtz, McCarthy’s partner Jim Carrey at the time, lectured and recruited while McCarthy and Jim Carrey hosted galas and marches. This involved a large part of the effort being to search local and internet news for stories from people who thought they or their children were injured by vaccines.

Kurtz saw Desiree’s local news coverage, and contacted her.

The story is so compelling that anyone who sees it will be captivated. Jenny was crying,” Kurtz said to a reporter from the local Fox station before announcing Generation Rescue’s help in “recovering” Desiree from her vaccine injury.

Desiree joined Generation Rescue. They helped Desiree set up a site that advertised Kurtz’s vitamin lollipop company and products associated with Generation Rescue. issued a statement to challenge the doctors who dared question her on television, and collected money through its website “to pay for her mounting expenses.” Desiree claimed she never received the money.

Desiree repeated this “for children” language in her blog, and also during news interviews. She told , Fox5: “I want speak because I am able to and they are not.”

Desiree said, “I felt obliged to believe what they were telling me.” “I knew nothing back then.”

Kurtz and a camera crew visited her Virginia home, where they captured 40 hours of footage over the course of the following week. They said that this video would be used in a future film warning against vaccines starring Desiree.

The documentary has never been made.

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