Te Awamutu mother Ally Edwards-Lasenby thought she was doing the right thing by making an informed decision not to immunise her son against Measles at four years of age.
It was at a time when there was a lot of speculation about the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causing autism later in life.
While her now 14-year-old son Cameron didn’t develop autism, he did spend three days in Waikato Hospital last year fighting for his life against the Measles virus.
In fact, Cameron was the first of a cluster of unimmunised young people living in and around Te Awamutu, to contract Measles in July 2011.
“Unfortunately someone had shown up at school in the early stages of the illness and unknowingly spread the virus around and Cam became unwell,” said Mrs Edwards-Lasenby.
“He first presented with flu-like illness and we took him to our GP at Hillcrest Medical Centre and were told that he had a bad dose of the flu. Ally Edwards-Lasenby
Photo: Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
“Two days later I went back because I wasn’t happy about Cameron’s health.
“I was quickly told that I had better take him to Waikato Hospital Emergency Department myself as I’d be faster than an ambulance.
“He had deteriorated quickly and had all the symptoms, from a red face and neck, white lumps on the inside of his cheeks, conjunctivitis, nausea, dizziness, light sensitivity, a cough, runny nose and a fully developed full body rash.
“The poor kid was miserable.”
Cameron was put in isolation and it was there that he was diagnosed as having Measles. He spent three days in hospital on oxygen.
“It was one of those things where I had made the informed decision at the time not to do the MMR vaccine, with the information I had available to me, but where I went wrong was not going back to revisit that information and the advice available as time went on.
“And that is what I strongly advise other parents to do. I know why we
Immunise and Cameron and my other son Paul were up to date with all their other immunisations.
“I also understand the importance of parents and families being able to make their own decisions based on good, sound information, but its so important to make sure the information you are basing your decisions on is from a creditable source and that you revisit it.
“Best practice and advice is always changing. I didn’t do that in Cameron’s case and it was not a good feeling seeing my son as vulnerable as he was. It was very scary. He was just so weak and sick and lost seven kilograms throughout his illness.”
Mrs Edwards-Lasenby says it is only in the past three months that her son has started to become well again.
After being discharged from hospital, he battled the beginning stages of Pneumonia as Measles attacks the respiratory system.
Because his immune system took such a hit from the illness, he spent the next eight months on and off antibiotics fighting every bug going.
“Our medical centre was fantastic and sent out personal letters to other families who had made the same decision as I had to let them know of the consequences. As a result, many follow up immunisations were done,” said Mrs Edwards-Lasenby.
“After all this happened, we had Cameron’s Measles immunisations done at Waikato Hospital Emergency Department which was great for peace of mind and I think people should know that that’s an option too, if they are concerned for valid reasons about having their children immunised.
“Parents, please keep up to date with health information and advice regarding your children so you’re not playing Russian roulette with their lives.”
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