If you haven’t heard about the Measles outbreak, what gorgeous island have you been stranded on, and why didn’t you take me? It’s a very hot topic right now, and it has touched people that are dear to me. My friend, Beth, wrote this to share with you all about her brush with measles:
Our 21 day measles quarantine is FINALLY over. As you may have seen on the news, a daycare in Santa Monica was closed because of a confirmed case of measles. That was Michael’s* daycare. Three weeks ago we noticed a rash on him (almost one year old). He didn’t seem too uncomfortable so we weren’t too concerned. Later that day, we received notice that there was a confirmed case of measles in his infant room at daycare. Being too young to vaccinate, and hearing of his symptoms, the health department thought he likely had measles too. His rash progressed, he had the goopy eye, his ears were bothering him. All signs of measles. We were immediately placed on a quarantine so there was no way to bring him to urgent care or a doctors office to get him checked out.
I spent the next day in a panic over who we had been in contact with, or who else we might have infected, “I rode that elevator with the baby and he was having a coughing fit.” I was on the phone with the CDC, County Health, School District Nurse, on call pediatrician.
Our pediatrician, being the amazing woman she is, called me even though she wasn’t even working to find out what was going on. She told me to bring him into her office that Sunday when he wouldn’t expose any other children and she would do the tests. So there we sat, in her office, holding down my screaming miserable baby so she could draw blood, insert a catheter for urinalysis, and do a nasal swab. She saw he had two ear infections. Then we waited. I was up nights listening to my baby cough. Worrying about pneumonia. Watching him bat at his head whenever we put him on the changing table. Worrying about loss of hearing. Both are side effects of measles.
In the meantime, I found out that I couldn’t return to work until I had blood work drawn to check my immunity . Brooke (almost 5) and Eli (3) also had to have blood work drawn since they came in contact with the infant room and had only had one of their MMR vaccines so far. Again, 2 nurses and myself holding down each of my babies while they cried and screamed and got their blood drawn.
We continue to wait and I continue to burn through my personal days, because as I found out, the language in my contract doesn’t pay for quarantine. Nice. Eric had to go to work late and leave early everyday so that he could get the two older kids to school since I wasn’t allowed to enter their school with a quarantined baby.
The baby’s blood work came back 4 days later. The wonderful news, his measles test came back negative. That means that nobody we came in contact before the quarantine was infected. The bad news was that because he had zero immunity (too young to vaccinate) he could still develop measles in the coming weeks since he was directly exposed so we were stay in quarantine for 2.5 more weeks. In addition, I couldn’t take him to the doctor to check his ear infection and cough that didn’t seem to be improving because we are quarantined. Thank goodness, our pediatrician was on the phone with me regularly checking in on him. Last Monday she had us bring him in after hours to check his ears again and eventually give him an injection to help with the persistent ear infection that wouldn’t clear up.
She is an educated, kind, child-loving person who I trust whole heartedly with my children. When she tells me it is time for this vaccination, I know she is telling me something in the best interest of my child with her superior knowledge of medicine and experience.
The fact that people try to argue, “To each his own” when it comes to parenting and vaccinating infuriates me. We can’t smoke in public because it is a public health threat. The county has health codes that keep us safe everywhere. Do you know that the county requires that people who make food for you have to wash their hands? What if we said, “I just don’t feel like washing my hands. I think it will make me less healthy to wash my hands. I FEEL like picking my nose and making you a hamburger. It should be my choice if I wash my hands. To each his own.” This is a health issue that is greater than your own immediate family. This is not a parent topic that should be up for debate like formula vs. breast milk or sleep training vs. co sleeping. Those who have chosen not to vaccinate are given that privilege by taking advantage of the fact that the majority of us have chosen to do our job and vaccinate our children.
I stayed home with my baby keeping him away from the public because I couldn’t live with myself if I knew that I had knowingly put other babies or children who medically can’t vaccinate in harms way. Yes, I even stayed away from school, to protect those anti-vaxxer students who sit in my classroom. There are many. I work in Santa Monica. I lost pay because I would not wish this illness on ANYONE. And I would do it again. Unfortunately, not everyone sees this as a civic duty, or gives it the same respect and follow through as Jury Duty (which by the way, I would be getting paid for if I couldn’t go to work for, but that is a whole other rant).
I don’t categorize this as a “nightmare” for us. I know it could have been much worse. Thank goodness for my mom who was able to come up to help watch the baby after my blood work cleared for the last 7 days. But it has NOT, by any means, been easy. And as a mother of 3 young children and a middle school teacher, I know that every negative experience can be turned into a learning experience. So I use my voice and my story to say one thing… vaccinate your children. Please.
*Names have been changed.