By Lilly Combs
Lately, the anti-vax movement has been trending everywhere. Many parents believe that getting their kids vaccinated will increase the chances of their children being autistic. While this theory has been debunked many times, parents continue to not vaccinate their children. This month, a 6-year-old boy in Oregon got tetanus, a disease that is easily prevented by vaccinations. This was the first case of tetanus in over thirty years, and nearly cost the young boy his life. While the boy lived, his parents racked up $800,000 in medical bills. Guess what? The tetanus vaccine costs about $30.
Tetanus is a life-threatening disease caused by a bacterial infection. The toxins in the bacteria are found in soil, dust, animal feces, and often rusty nails. The toxins are most dangerous in deep flesh wounds, which enable the toxins to impair motor neurons. The disease causes intense muscle spasms and contractions, and eventually impairs your ability to breathe.
The young boy contracted tetanus while playing on his farm when he scraped his forehead. His family thought nothing of it and treated the would normally. However, a few days later the boy started having severe upper body spasms and lockjaw. He was immediately rushed to a pediatric center. He had could not open his mouth or breath and had to have a breathing tube inserted. The doctors diagnosed him with tetanus and gave him rounds of the vaccine and other medications to relax the body. He spent 50 days in the hospital, 47 days in intensive care in a dark room to prevent stimulation which made his spasms worse. He had to have a hole cut in his neck to reinsert a breathing tube as his condition worsened. After the 50th day, he was able to walk twenty feet but clearly needed to spend more time in rehabilitation.
After all this, the boy could still contract tetanus again, but his parents refused another dose of the vaccine. Hopefully, other families recognize the seriousness of this problem and vaccinate their children. Vaccinations prevent the children who receive them from getting these diseases, but they also provide herd immunity. For people who can not get vaccinated and are immunocompromised, the vaccination of the rest of the community is vital. If other people are not getting the disease, it can not spread to these people. Be smart, get vaccinated.