EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — The federal government awarded an Excelsior Springs man $7.4 million after his wife was left disabled from getting vaccines before a trip. But this man says he’s still very much pro-vaccines.
Back in June of 2011, Carolyn Schutte came to the Clay County Public Health Center to get vaccinations before her trip to Africa. Two days later she had permanent brain damage.
“It`s lonely,” said Jim Schutte, Carolyn’s husband. “Carolyn was not just my wife, she was my best friend, she was the closest friend that I’ve ever had, and now she can`t even speak to me.”
In June, 2011, they were preparing for a trip to Africa, and needed a number of vaccinations for diseases like Hepatitis A, B, Typhoid, and Tetanus.
“We were avid travelers, we went all over the world,” he said. “She was running short on time, so she got all of her vaccines at once.”
Almost 48 hours after getting the vaccine, Carolyn lost consciousness, and collapsed. She suffered permanent brain damage caused by Encephalopathy.
“The world came crashing down on us,” said Schutte.
Carolyn, who was once Mayor of Excelsior Springs, now needs 24 hour a day care. Schutte says all they can do is hold hands and watch TV together.
“It`s heartbreaking,” he said.
The settlement, which awarded the Schutte’s $7.4 million, comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and was reached Monday. Schutte says the money is to provide Carolyn with the appropriate care.
“The cost of taking care of someone who is bedridden is an enormous expense,” Schutte said.
Schutte’s attorney, Leland Dempsey, says the money comes from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program, which was set up for cases for people injured by a vaccine.
“The legal system that it’s been established on is not based on fault,” Dempsey said.
Schutte is well aware.
“What happened to Carolyn is a freak accident,” said Schutte, who has a background in medical research.
He is adamantly in favor of vaccinations, especially for children, despite what has happened to his wife.
“The damages these diseases do are much greater than any potential risk of getting vaccinated against them,” Schutte said.
The money the Schutte’s received will be spread out annually over a 20 year period. The money covers the loss of her income and helps pay for her costly care.
The Schutte’s lawyer also says these cases are relatively rare, as very few people’s immune systems respond negatively to vaccinations.