To the parent of the unvaccinated child who exposed my family to measles,
I have a number of strong feelings surging through my body right now. Towards my family, I am feeling extra protective like a papa bear. Towards you, unvaccinating parent, I feel anger and frustration at your choices.
I assume you love your child just like I love mine. I assume that you are trying to make good choices regarding their care. Please realise that your child does not live in a bubble. When your child gets sick, other children are exposed. My children. Why would you knowingly expose anyone to your sick, unvaccinated child after recently visiting Disneyland? That was a bone-headed move.
Why does this effect me and mine? Why is my family at risk if we are vaccinating? I’m glad you asked.
Regarding measles, there are four groups of people.
All are represented in my family.
First, the MMR vaccine results in immunity for most who receive it. Two doses provides protection that can be confirmed with blood titers. My wife is in this group.
Second, about 3% of fully-vaccinated children do not develop a lasting immune response. They have low blood titers and are not protected against measles. If exposed, this group will likely get the illness. I am in this group. I was thankfully not exposed.
Third, we have the unvaccinated. My son, Eli, is ten months old. He is too young to received the MMR vaccine and thus has no protection. Whether by refusal or because they are too young, exposed unvaccinated children have a 90% chance of getting measles.
Fourth, there are children like my Maggie. These are children who can’t be vaccinated. Children who have cancer. Children who are immunocompromised. Children who are truly allergic to a vaccine or part of a vaccine (i.e anaphylaxis to egg). These children remain at risk. They cannot be protected … except by vaccinating people around them. In August of 2014, Maggie was diagnosed with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of childhood leukemia. We have been fighting leukemia since then.
Back to my story …
It was Wednesday. Maggie had just been discharged from Phoenix Children’s Hospital after finishing her latest round of chemotherapy. That afternoon she went to the PCH East Valley Specialty Clinic for a lab draw. Everything went fine, and we were feeling good … until Sunday evening when we got the call.