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March 1, 2024

Midwife Fined $300K For Giving 1,500 Kids Fake Vaccines

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Jan 21, 2024

A Long Island midwife has been fined $300,000 for giving nearly 1,500 children fake vaccines made up of homeopathic pellets and then falsifying state immunization records over a four-year period.

Midwife Admits To Fake Vaccine Scheme

Jeanette Breen, a licensed midwife operating in Baldwin, admitted to substituting the vaccines children were supposed to receive with oral homeopathic pellets between 2018 and 2022. She then falsified state records to make it appear the children had been immunized, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.

The fake vaccines were administered to children ranging from newborns to teenagers who were patients at her practice. Instead of real vaccines protecting against diseases like polio, measles and hepatitis B, the children received useless homeopathic pellets.

“This defendant violated public trust by creating false vaccine records and not properly immunizing children,” said Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith. “Her actions unconscionably put innocent children at risk with unproven fake medicine.”

Over 12,000 Vaccines Falsified

In total, investigators found that Breen falsified over 12,500 required immunization doses for the children under her care over the four year period.

The full scope of Breen’s operation was uncovered after complaints from parents who grew suspicious of the midwife’s practice.

Kate Sherman, a mother of three from Long Island, said she first became concerned when she never actually saw Breen administer vaccines to her children despite records showing they had received them.

“It didn’t feel right. I never saw a needle or anything,” Sherman said. “I started asking questions and the more questions I asked, the stranger her answers were.”

Table 1: Number of Fake Vaccines By Year

Year Fake Vaccines Administered
2018 1,850
2019 3,200
2020 3,500
2021 2,000
2022 2,000
Total 12,550

Homeopathic Pellets Have No Medical Value

Authorities said Breen used homeopathic pellets from a company called Enercel that contained extremely diluted amounts of various disease materials. The highly-diluted concoction has no proven medical value whatsoever.

“Homeopathic remedies contain little to no active ingredients,” said Dr. Lewis Cooper, an infectious disease expert at NYU Langone Health. “They do not stimulate the immune system and leave patients completely vulnerable to contracting actual dangerous diseases.”

By falsifying records, Breen was able to bypass scrutiny and make it appear as if children had satisfied school enrollment vaccination requirements.

The New York Department of Health has identified over 1,500 children whose immunization records were falsified by Breen. They say the number could grow as the investigation continues.

Health Impacts Still Being Determined

While homeopathic treatments are viewed as generally safe since they contain miniscule amounts of active ingredients, health experts say there could still be consequences from leaving children unvaccinated.

“Without proper vaccines, children are left susceptible to very real diseases like measles, polio and hepatitis which can lead to disability and even death,” Cooper said. “This scheme betrayed the trust of parents and gambled with children’s health.”

The Health Department is now working to notify parents, schools, healthcare providers and local health departments to assess the full impact.

They say children with falsified records will need to be revaccinated according the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices catch-up vaccination schedule.

Depending on the child’s age and which vaccines are missing, the catch-up schedule can involve receiving multiple shots at the same visit.

“While homeopathy itself likely caused no direct harm, without real vaccines these children have essentially been walking around susceptible to dangerous illness,” said Health Department Commissioner Oliver D’Souza. “We need to determine their level of protection and get them properly vaccinated if gaps exist.”

Midwife Charged With Felonies

Breen has been charged with several felonies including forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument and scheme to defraud. She also had her license suspended and could face additional discipline, including revocation of her license.

Prosecutors portrayed Breen as someone drunk on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories who callously risked children’s lives.

“The defendant’s reckless, dangerous and selfish actions violated the trust placed in her by children and their families,” District Attorney Smith said. “Sadly, peddlers of anti-vax falsehoods continue to sow doubt that incentivizes others to follow this defendant’s misguided path.”

Breen’s lawyer says his client admits wrongdoing but had good intentions. He maintains she gave children homeopathy believing it would protect them from diseases without the risks she believed came with traditional vaccination.

“Ms. Breen made a mistake but is not the villain she is being made out to be,” said defense attorney Calvin Rossman. “Throughout her career, she earned a reputation for going above and beyond to care for mothers, babies and children.”

Breen will be sentenced later this year. She signed an agreement to pay $300,000 in restitution to Nassau County.

Fallout Expected Across New York

The Health Department said children outside of Nassau County also appear to have had vaccine records falsified by Breen. Parents as far away as Buffalo have already been notified their children could be impacted.

In total, officials estimate over 1,500 students statewide may have had vaccine records altered and more than 120 children from the Hudson Valley also received the bogus vaccines.

“We’re still determining the full scope, but it seems children across Long Island, New York City and upstate have been put at increased risk by the defendant’s scheme,” Commissioner D’Souza said.

School districts are also now scrambling to verify vaccine records as the investigation continues. In New York, nearly all students must receive proper immunizations to attend school.

The state could grant temporary waivers for students to stay enrolled as they go through the catch-up vaccination process in the months ahead.

“It’s certainly going to mean more work and bureaucracy,” Hempstead Superintendent Rebecca Jones told reporters. “But above all, we want to ensure children actually have the vaccines they need.”

Conclusion

The fake vaccine case has shocked parents, doctors and health officials while also dealing another blow to vaccination efforts still recovering from trends skepticism brought on by COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Prosecutors portrayed Breen as an anti-vaccine extremist who callously manipulated records to align with her misguided beliefs. But her lawyer contends there was no malicious intent behind her actions.

Regardless of motives, the fact remains that because of Breen’s scheme, an unknown number of children were put at increased risk of illness over a span of four years. Investigators are still working to unravel the full scope and there could be more fallout to come as schools review records and parents contemplate lawsuits.

For now, health officials are focused on tracking down impacted families so children can be revaccinated according to medical guidelines. They hope increased safeguards will prevent any similar incidents going forward.

“This case underscores the importance of ensuring only qualified, licensed healthcare professionals are responsible for administering childhood vaccines,” Commissioner D’Souza said. “We will thoroughly investigate what happened here and implement stronger oversight around record keeping and auditing.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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