Starting just hours after birth with an inoculation for Hepatitis B, followed with more week after week, a healthy infant gets at least 20 shots in its first 6 months of life.
If you've adhered to today's government recommendations your child has received more than 30 vaccinations, many more than health officials recommended just a dozen years ago.
"Mainstream medicine recommends first and foremost, people get vaccinated and so I got vaccinated, I hope you'll get vaccinated this flu season to protect against the flu," Dr. David Johnson, Dep. Dir. of Michigan Dept. of Community Health advises.
"We all feel comfortable that the benefits of the vaccination program far outweigh any potential risks," asserts Dr. Benjamin Schwartz at Atlanta's Center for Disease Control.
But a group of parents who met with us in our studio are far from comfortable that doctors and government watchdogs are telling us all they know.
"My husband is a physician. I'm a nurse practitioner. We're a medical family," mother Lynn Redwood tells Action News. "I've preached vaccines for years. I've administered vaccines. I'm not advocating not vaccinating the children. What I'm asking for is for safer vaccines," she adds.
Lynn and a growing number of others are worried about something called Thimerosal, a substance that has been added to vaccines for years as a preservative or sterilizing agent.
Thimerosal is half mercury, similar to what's in blood pressure devices.
Next to uranium, mercury is the most toxic substance known to man.
But according to Dr. Schwartz, concerns over mercury do not need to interfere with the vaccinations recommended today for you and your children.
"We worked with the vaccine manufacturers to get Thimerosal completely out of the childhood vaccination schedule," Dr. Schwartz says.
Dr. Gary Freed, MD, the U-M Chief of Pediatrics, agrees. "In this country, we've removed Thimerosal from the vaccines that are given to children," Freed also advises.
Others find fault with these statements. "It is not out of the vaccines," researcher David Geier told Action News. "It is clearly in many of the vaccines given to children and it's not one or two. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of children that are receiving the full amount of Thimerosal from some of the vaccines today."
The "full amount" refers to the levels injected into American children for many years, until Congress demanded that the FDA look at just how much mercury was adding up from shot after shot.
Although vaccine makers were encouraged but not ordered to remove Thimerosal four years ago, many vaccines doctors recommend do still contain it. The parents we talked to point to persuasive lines of evidence that suggest a link between learning disabilities as serious as autism and repeated injection of vaccines that contain mercury.
Parent Lynn Redwood suspects that mercury may be responsible for her son's autism. "My son was born completely normal, walking, talking, meeting all his developmental landmarks," Lynn remembers. "Shortly after his first birthday he started to regress. He lost his speech and language skills He just started drifting off into his own world."
"It was a very subtle, slow sort of decline down a slippery slope into autism," Lynn says. "At two months of age, he received three vaccines that one day. He received 62.5 micrograms of ethylmercury, directly injected. His allowable exposure, according to EPA, was .5, so he received 125 times his allowable exposure to mercury."
Put another way, a patient would have to weigh 284 pounds to safely ingest that much mercury and not exceed EPA safety guidelines. Little Will weighed only 11 pounds.
Right here in Michigan, cases of autism have skyrocketed 1538% in just the last 10 years, and there's no reliable estimate of the increase in less severe learning disorders.
Kenny Taylor is autistic. Less than a week after receiving his last set of shots, Ken Taylor, his father, began to notice a change.
"Loss of communication skills, affection skills, everything he had known prior to the onset was gone," Ken recalls. "His verbal communication was completely gone. His eye contact was no longer there. He isolated himself from everything and everyone."
"He was perfectly healthy until we a day when we took him in for numerous vaccines. A perfectly healthy child. I mean he could be the Gerber baby," Carolyn Gammacca says of her son Nicholas.
Carolyn concedes her son may well have had some genetic predisposition to autism when he got four vaccinations in one day at age two 10 years ago. "But we believe that one day is when we lost our child," Carolyn says. "After that, he wasn't the same."
To Dr. Boyd Haley, the Chief of the Chemistry Department at the University of Kentucky, parental suspicions seem to be on-target.
"You know, you never have an absolute answer but I'm sitting here saying, 'look, you're injecting these kids with one of the most neurotoxic compounds that we have available to ourselves and the rate of autism went up with the increased number of injections of this material into a child'," Dr. Haley contends.
So why are so many medical associations and health professionals, even at the best medical facilities in America, soft-pedaling concerns and sometimes providing inaccurate or misleading information, as they did when our producer called and spoke to a registered nurse?
She was told by one RN that regardless of which shot she gets, there won't be mercury in the shot. That is not true.
In fact, when mercury-free vaccines are available-as they are with the flu shots now being pushed for you and your children- you're frequently not even told you have a choice.
"It is a policy that we make those vaccines, both the Thimerosal-containing and the Thimerosal-free, available to our patients," Dr. Freed argues. He is the same doctor who earlier claimed that Thimerasol has been removed from childhood vaccines, but now admits you can avoid it if you know enough to ask.
"The biggest danger is that people won't vaccinate their children, whether it be because of mercury or for any other purpose, because once people stop vaccinating their children, they place their children at risk of severe, life-threatening, preventable diseases," Dr. Freed says, in response to our argument that a policy does not exist to let parents know that both types of vaccine are available.
Many vaccines still contain Thimerosal. Levels of the substance have been removed or dramatically reduced in some, but not all, cases. If it's a risk you want to avoid, it is apparently up to you to ask for mercury-free vaccines. Here is an important point to remember: Action News found nothing to support a conclusion that all vaccines should be avoided. Our point is that your healthcare provider may not be telling you all you need to know to decide exactly which inoculations are right for you and your children.