Allow me to introduce you to my dear friend’s baby.
This is Jack. Jack is the happiest 10-month-old boy you could ever hope to meet. He is chubby and handsome. He’s also tough. In his short little life he has already gone through several surgeries from a few health challenges, but through it all, he has the biggest, happiest smile.
His mother Tiffany is one of the sweetest, strongest human beings you could ever hope to meet. We have known each other for quite a while, so I write this post not only as a nurse practitioner, but as a friend. Yesterday, I received some terrible news about Jack that led me to think about this question:
Does this sweet baby deserve to be exposed to the measles?
Why do I ask such a question? Because, unfortunately, we are living in a time where it has to be asked. Even though some of the greatest scientific minds have spent the better part of this century trying to eliminate this awful disease with a safe, effective vaccine, many parents still think it is okay to potentially expose their own children and other children to this deadly disease by not vaccinating. Why? They are incorrectly more afraid of a vaccine than the potentially-deathly disease itself. However, it is time to put this question to rest. Allow me to be clear.
It is not okay to expose Jack to the measles, or any child for that matter.
Unfortunately though, yesterday I learned that Jack became one of 195 measles-exposed children living in my own backyard. He was exposed during a simple visit to a local urgent care for a double ear infection. While seeking out treatment, he unknowingly came home exposed to the measles from another child that was diagnosed in the office at the same time. Although Jack has had each and every vaccine on time, at 10 months of age, he was not scheduled to receive his first dose of MMR until 12 months, leaving him without any protection against the measles. But the exposure didn’t stop with Jack. Every other person in that urgent care was exposed as well.
Two more of those sweet little children who were exposed include Maggie and her younger brother.
Maggie is currently fighting cancer. She has ALL, a type of childhood leukemia. Her baby brother is too young to vaccinate. Their father wrote about the experience of having his extremely susceptible children exposed to the measles here. He understands that measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man. You can catch measles just from breathing the same air in a room where an infected person was up to 2 hours later. A busy urgent care waiting room is a measles heyday. Furthermore, up to 90% of people who are not immune will actually contract measles after being exposed. That’s frightening news for children that aren’t vaccinated, no matter what reason.
Does this baby deserve to be exposed to the measles? If Jack actually develops the measles, do you know who else would then be exposed? His older brother, Teddy, would be exposed then too (along with the hundreds of other people that this family unknowingly came in contact with). Teddy is currently tackling kindergarten. He is also tackling Cystic Fibrosis and Type 1 Diabetes. He is the definition of “immune-comprised.” Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease. Last September, a dear friend of mine passed away from Cystic Fibrosis after an infection while she was on the waiting list for her second lung transplant. She was 21 years old. I don’t think that Teddy should have to tackle measles as well, do you?