“He doesn’t go to public places, he doesn’t go to playdates, he doesn’t go to people’s house’s, we don’t go out to eat, he doesn’t go to the store,” Jessica Fitchel, mom to 5-year-old Kai Bonneau, told KATU News.
Fitchel said her son has missed an entire month of school in January, and that he can’t get vaccinated against the virus until he finishes his last chemotherapy treatment. She said her son has been in treatment for acute blastic leukemia for more than half of his life.
“For us, it’s been pretty oppressive,” she told KATU News. “He doesn’t know much. We do a good job of sheltering him, but it’s been hard. And there’s an ordinate amount of fear that goes with that.”
In South Carolina, a pediatrician started turning unvaccinated patients away citing concerns for patients like Kai. CPG Pediatrics at Carolina Forest made the move last week, which was widely circulated on social media after a mother of an unvaccinated child shared the news.
“Having unvaccinated children coming to a pediatric office where lots of children are at a very high-risk for contracting vaccine-related diseases just seems inappropriate,” Dr. Marc Bahan, a physician at the practice, told WMBF-TV. “We have patients on chemotherapy with cancer…. We have patients coming in here with severe congenital heart disease. All of these patients can potentially die if they contract one of these diseases.”
The practice said they’re new policy is in-step with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends “all children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years.”
The current measles cases in the U.S. has reignited the vaccine debate nationwide, with states looking to either tighten requirements for exemptions or loosen avenues for parents to avoid having their children vaccinated. The ongoing outbreak in Washington, Kai’s home state, has sickened 69 so far, which accounts for over 40 percent of the current cases recorded by the CDC since Jan. 1. Illinois, Texas, New York and Oregon have all recorded over three or more cases at a time.
Most of the cases in Washington involve unvaccinated children under 10. Fitchel told KATU News that she isn’t questioning parents on their love for their children, but urges them to make educated vaccination decisions for the sake of her son and others like him.
The highly contagious disease typically starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. It’s then followed by a full-body rash and poses most risk to unvaccinated children younger than 5, unvaccinated patients with compromised immune systems and unvaccinated pregnant women.