“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“Life’s unfairness is not irrevocable; we can help balance the scales for others, if not always for ourselves.” –Hubert Humphrey

Hello, my name is Robin Rebrik- Stavola, and to your left you will see a picture of my daughter, Holly.


On February 4th, 2000, Holly Stavola, a daughter, a sibling, a grandchild, and a niece died tragically and unnecessarily from encephalopathy due to her 2nd MMR vaccination. Holly was a completely healthy, bright, kind and beautiful 5 year old child. The day she received her vaccinations at her 5 year well check-up Holly was not sick nor immunocompromised in any way. She received the MMR, the oral polio (which was no longer recommended as of Jan. 2000), the DTaP, the Mantoux test, and my son received the Chickenpox Vaccine (he was 9 years old). She became very ill a week following the shots, which is within the expected time period, a vaccine table injury of encephalopathy. Encephalopathy is one of the potential reactions of the MMR as stated in the Merck Package Insert and the vaccinetable.html  on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It can occur between 5-15 days after the vaccine.

She suffered 65 hours before becoming brain dead. Her first symptoms were a 107 degree fever and seizure that happened in our house before calling 911. In the first hospital we were screaming for help; they did a spinal tap to check for meningitis, and with increasing brain inflammation this should not have been done. She was shivering because hypothermia set in due to them trying to cool down her 107/108 fever. She was naked, vomiting, could not speak (ataxia), and had tears in her eyes. Her last words in the ambulance were, “Mommy help.”

The Doctors’ Conclusions

The doctors eliminated all possible infectious, bacterial and viral diseases and concluded that all her symptoms were due to encephalopathy, a vaccine table injury.  The federal government conceded that Holly’s death was compensable due to a vaccine.  The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has paid 3.9 billion approx. out to vaccine injured individuals. 

Medical Help Fell Short

Her pediatrician and their office failed us immensely by not informing us of the risks, not attributing her symptoms to a possible reaction the day it began, and not showing up at either hospital. She was at two local Monmouth County hospitals that were clueless until I, the mother, had to alert them to the fact that she had vaccinations the week prior. That is when the hospital and pediatrician finally concluded the diagnosis that was reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) by Holly’s pediatrician.

Encephalopathy is one of the potential reactions of the MMR as stated in the Merck Package Insert and the vaccinetable.html  on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Become Aware of the Risks

One needs to become knowledgable and informed before making a decision to vaccinate.  When our daughter became severely sick, we, the EMS and the hospital medical people were unable to figure out what was happening until I finally brought up vaccinations at the hospital. It did not occur to me that a vaccination could cause such a reaction as I was not informed of vaccination risks in the year that Holly died.  Download and review the Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) which are available from the Center for Disease Control’s website and Federal Law that you are to receive these “watered down”  explanations for adverse reactions. “Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) are information sheets produced by the CDC that explain both the benefits and risks of a vaccine to vaccine recipients. Federal law requires that healthcare staff provide a VIS to a patient, parent, or legal representative before each dose of certain vaccines.” 

I served on the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a parent of a vaccine injured child. We were compensated by the government for death. My family and I hope that Holly’s story will make a difference and help you realize that you must be aware of the benefits and risks of vaccinations for your child just as you make yourself aware of the benefits and risks of any medical procedure. We, unfortunately, were not educated in the area of vaccinations and because of this we were not able to help the medical people help our daughter Holly.  The reason we would like to tell Holly’s story is because we think other parents, as well as doctors, should know the truth and become educated about vaccinations.

Holly’s Law

If you would like to read the law Click Here or you can find it on the NJ State Legislature website www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and click on chapter laws, then click on 2003 chapter laws, and then scroll to page 6 of 7 to find P.L. 2003, c257 and you will see Holly’s Law.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shed light on an important issue. However, our daughter’s death was not in vain now because we have told many people Holly’s story and there is now a “Holly’s Law” in the state of New Jersey. Holly’s suffering was painful to watch, but at least now we know there have been lessons learned from Holly’s story.

We will be forever grateful to everyone that helped us along the way to get our bill through the legislative process. For more information about the bills’ sponsors, visit the website mentioned above.

A Song for Holly

And please join us in celebrating Holly’s life with this video made by her sister who never got to meet her.


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