My husband, Chris, and I are longtime Disneyland fanatics -- we even got married there -- so we were excited to be able to share it with our first child, Mobius. (I should add that before we had him, I was known to say, "Why on earth would anyone take a baby to Disneyland?") But since he'd been born a month early in the fall, we were concerned about exposing him to illnesses, whooping cough in particular. We even kept him almost exclusively homebound until after his first round of vaccines at 2 months.
When he was 4 months, we went to Disneyland. This was a full month after the initial outbreak everyone knows about. But 14 days after we got home, he became sick for the first time. Even as a nurse, I felt completely unprepared and helpless. His fever was over 102 degrees F, the few spots on the back of his head covered his body within a couple of days, and his eyes bothered him so much that he learned to roll over in an attempt to rub his face on a surface and "scratch" harder than his fingers could. We took him to the hospital, and though we didn't get confirmation for another week, doctors suspected he'd gotten measles, most likely from our Disney trip. For the next month, Mobius had a cough that sounded worse than a smoker with a bad cold.
In addition to being terrified for my child's safety, I worried about whether we'd infected others. Measles is contagious for up to four days before the rash appears, and we'd been all over town, unknowingly exposing hundreds of people.
It's frustrating to know that if California's vaccination rates had been higher, Mobius would've been more protected by herd immunity. Deciding whether to vaccinate is not just a choice you're making for yourself, like breast vs. bottle or cloth vs. disposable diapers; it's one you're making for your community as well. Being a new parent is terrifying at times, but vaccines help give me peace of mind. I trust the thousands of scientists around the world who've spent decades developing, perfecting, and researching these lifesaving tools.
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