Vaccinations aren’t just for your own protection. They’re also a shield for other vulnerable members of our community who are unable to take advantage of certain injections.
Pregnant women. Infants. Those with life-threatening allergies to components of the vaccine. People who’ve received an organ transplant. Or, as the mother of a young cancer patient pointed out in a viral Twitter thread last week, people who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Welsh author Nicolle Stellon O’Donnell shared what happened after her eight-year-old, cancer-stricken daughter recently contracted measles at a grocery store. From the month spent in quarantine, to the containment protocol that had to be enacted at the hospital to protect other kids.
“When we arrived at [paedeatric oncology] they had to cancel appointments and shut down the infusion room while they sorted out the details of her exposure. The treatment of all the other patients (children with cancer) that afternoon was disrupted,” she wrote.
“On the flight home she had to wear a mask. This may not seem like a big deal, but imagine being eight, bald, skeletal, without eyebrows and eyelashes *and* having to wear a face mask in public.”
The Victorian Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service notes that while some immunisations can be safely administered during cancer treatment, others cannot. Including that for Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
The MMR vaccine is what’s called a ‘live’ vaccine, which means it contains a small amount of virus that has been altered to make it safe, PICS’ resource on the topic explains.
“They don’t normally cause disease as the immune system clears the infection, but children with cancer have a weaker immune system and are less able to do this, therefore they should not be given these vaccines during treatment.”
Which is why children – and adults – undergoing chemotherapy must rely on the rest of community to keep up to date with their vaccination schedule and prevent the spread of such diseases.
And so Nicole issued her plea: “Please #vaccinate your kids,” she wrote. “It’s an act of compassion for the many children who need herd immunity because their immune systems are not working.”
This is her full thread:
1: My daughter was quarantined for one month. It’s enough to be bald and chemo stricken at 8, but add being unable to leave the house.
— Nicole Stellon O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018