A heartbreaking Twitter thread shows what happens to immune-compromised kids when parents don’t vaccinate
There have been so, so many studies about the importance of vaccination. Here’s another real-life, gutwrenching story to add into the mix. Nicole Stellon O’Donnell took to Twitter to pen a thread about the extremely harmful effects of parents choosing not to vaccinate have had on her 8-year-old daughter with cancer.
Stellon O’Donnell’s daughter was exposed to measles while at a grocery store, and she shares the many painful repercussions that followed.
Once taken to the hospital, doctors had shut down the infusion room so that they could figure out all the details of her exposure. That disrupted the treatment of other children with cancer. They also had to shut down the exam room for cleaning which resulted in more patients not getting the resources they needed.
And, Stellon O’Donnell’s daughter was quarantined for one month.
Dear parents of children who do not have cancer: a casual measles exposure in a grocery store caused the following things to happen when my child was in chemotherapy:— Nicole O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
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 O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
2: When we arrived at ped/onc 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.— Nicole O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
3: The exam room we were in had to be shut down and given a "terminal cleaning," disrupting the ped/onc department's ability to serve other outpatient children with cancer.— Nicole O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
On a flight back home, the young girl 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,” Stellon O’Donnell writes.
There was a chance that kids in the clinic with Stellon O’Donnell’s daughter would need to take shots of Neulasta to boost their white blood cell counts, which has painful side effects. Thankfully, that didn’t end up being necessary.
5: There was a possibility that other children could have been required to have shots of Neulasta to boost their white blood cell counts. The side effects include terrible bone pain. Fortunately, my daughter's WBC count was high enough that no children had to go through that.— Nicole O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
6: Our oncology team spent much time working with state epidemiologists to decide what to do. Both for our child and all the other children in the clinic that day. I cried with relief when the told me none of the other children had to take Neulasta.— Nicole O’Donnell (@SteamLaundry) November 21, 2018
Stellon O’Donnell added that she was relieved this happened during the summer, so that her daughter didn’t have to miss out on school. She already missed three months while she was undergoing chemotherapy. “She would have been crushed to miss more,” her mother wrote.
O’Donnell’s thread went viral, with almost 46,000 likes and hundreds of comments. People stepped in with their own similar, heartbreaking stories.
Our son spent a week in isolation after measles exposure. He had a heart transplant and can’t get the MMR. Your tweet sums the chaos and panic of an exposure up perfectly.— Elizabeth Holloway (@RegStrategist) November 22, 2018
I got measles because of cancer and it was really bad. I was incredibly sick. Isolated. Vaccinate please.— a f waller (@afwaller) November 22, 2018
From someone who is going through chemo, please get yourself and your kids vacimated, even if you don't think that it is effective. I'm worried every time I have to pick up my 7 year old at school.— Stephen Battista (@StephenBattista) November 22, 2018
Many applauded O’Donnell for sharing her story and – once again – reiterated the importance of vaccination.
I'm still gobsmacked that people choose not to vaccinate their kids and are so blasé about it.— Aleen 🦖 (@Aleen) November 22, 2018
This, a thousand times this!— Evelyn Christianson (@GenevaChristie) November 22, 2018
That vaccination is not only a health security for one's own child, IT IS PART OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT one makes to live alongside other humans.
What if someone's beliefs were to burn their kid? Law and society wd step in.
They're not only foolish regarding their own children's health, they're incredibly selfish regarding the health of others.— Judy (@Siubhan_H) November 22, 2018
O’Donnell concluded her thread with an incredibly simple, important message. “Please vaccinate your kids. Please get your
#flushot,” she says. “It’s an act of compassion for the many children who need herd immunity because their immune systems are not working. #VaccinesWork.”
Those with compromised immune systems — like people going through chemo, newborns, women who are pregnant — become more at risk for illness because of the uneducated decisions of a few. Don’t be one of those few.