Bridgeport man: Flu vaccine caused rare disease; will oppose state bill

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A Bridgeport man is criticizing a controversial vaccine bill, saying that a vaccine he got in 2009 almost cost him his life.

Jaquan Johnson, 21, says he's lucky to be alive after coming down with a potentially deadly condition called Rosai-Dorfman disease, which left him deaf in his left ear.

"It was hell, you know, because what 11-year-old wants to be in the hospital for 2 1/2 years of your life?" he told News 12.

Rosai Dorfman disease is characterized by painful inflammatory lesions. Johnson had to endure more than 13 surgeries.

Medical records show he developed the condition less than one week after getting the flu vaccine in 2009 so he could attend a Bridgeport Public School.

Studies show a “novel link" between Rosai-Dorfman and the flu vaccine.

"I feel like parents should have the right to say if their kids should get vaccinated or not,” says Johnson. “I feel like nobody should force a parent to do what they want to do with their child because everybody's body is different."

The pending vaccine bill would make vaccinations mandatory for kids to attend any school, including private schools, even if parents object on the grounds of their religion.

During a packed public hearing last week, health officials said Connecticut could face a measles outbreak if the state does not strengthen its vaccine laws.

Health officials say the disease that Johnson came down with is rare, while vaccinations, by and large, are extremely safe and promote good health in children.

They say the pending vaccine bill is crucial for public safety and should be passed.

Johnson says the public can count on his loyal opposition to the bill.

Officials say it may be several weeks before the vaccine bill gets a vote before the full state House.

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