When most parents discover their children have chicken pox, they run out to the store to buy calamine lotion. But when Camille Echols found out that her 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, had been exposed to the chicken pox, she had to rush her to the ER. For some children like Ashley, an infectious disease like the chicken pox could be fatal.
2. Some Children Aren't Healthy Enough For Vaccines
When Ashley was just 2 years old, she had a kidney transplant that saved her life, but it also left her highly susceptible to infectious diseases. Due to her vulnerable immune system, Ashley couldn’t receive the full chickenpox vaccine at the age when most kids are vaccinated, so for her – and for other children with compromised immune systems – an infectious disease like chicken pox is a very serious thing.
3. Echols Took To Facebook To Educate Anti-Vaxxers
As Echols watched her daughter sob on the hospital bed, she realized she had finally had enough. So she took to Facebook to share her feelings about the “anti-vax” movement. Her thesis: “The people choosing to skip vaccinations put children like my daughter at risk.”
4. Echols Is Not Only A Concerned Mom. She's Also A Nurse
Echols had chosen to remain quiet on the anti-vax movement for a long time, but she finally broke her silence when her daughter’s life was jeopardized. And as a pediatric RN “with over 10 years’ experience in transplant and chronic illness populations,” Echols is definitely knowledgeable on the subject of vaccinations. (Much more knowledgeable on the subject than, say, people who believe vaccinations cause autism. More on that later.)
5. Your Unvaccinated Child Threatens The Health Of Other Children
Since Echols is a medical professional, she's heard the other side of the vaccination debate, and she knew what comments to expect from the anti-vax movement. Like the common (yet ridiculous) argument, “Why would my unvaccinated kids be a threat to your vaccinated kids if you’re so sure they work?”
Echols proceeded to explain why immunosuppressed children like Ashley can die from a disease that is entirely preventable – but it's only preventable if others vaccinate their children.
Children like Ashley rely on the “herd immunity” to protect them from infectious diseases. The theory is that when a society vaccinates its healthy citizens, it cuts the chain of an infection’s transmission, thereby protecting those who can't be immunized. But for herd immunity to work, a certain percentage of a community needs to be vaccinated. So as more and more people are choosing not to vaccinate their children, they are leaving many vulnerable children at risk.
7. Let's All Educate Ourselves About Preventable Diseases
The Clinical Kidney Journal explains why chicken pox isn’t something to sneeze at: “Chicken pox…which is a benign disease with a largely stable course among the general population, can have severe outcomes for immunocompromised patients, accounting for almost 90% with significant morbidity and mortality in…infected patients.”
So saying something like, “It’s just chicken pox, she won’t die,” is just plain ignorant.
A main reason why anti-vaxxers consider vaccinations to be evil is that they believe that vaccines cause autism. This myth has been debunked time and time again. According to the CDC, “studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD.” Vaccines – with rare exceptions – are very safe.
10. Diseases That Were Eradicated Are Now Returning
Echols didn’t know if the child that passed the chicken pox on to her daughter had the vaccine or not, but she said that wasn’t the point.
She added, “The resurgence of chicken pox, whooping cough, measles and other diseases that were nearly eradicated years ago is a direct result of a large percentage of the population deciding not to vaccinate their children without sound research the support that decision.”
11. Diseases Like Measles Are Making A Scary Comeback
This is a point of concern for many medical professionals across the country – diseases that were nearly extinct are now coming back, and it’s because people are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Measles, for instance, was considered to be eradicated in 2000, but there have been numerous measles outbreaks in recent years.
Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for the CDC, says, “If you are unvaccinated and you come in contact with measles, there's a 90% chance you will get it.” And guess what? Children can die from the measles. It’s rare, but it’s possible. It’s also completely preventable.
12. She Wanted To Encourage Others To 'Educate Themselves'
Echols wanted to make it clear that her post was meant to explain just why it’s so important that they vaccinate their children. “The intent behind the post wasn’t to shame parents, but to encourage them to educate themselves," she said. "I had a rare opportunity as a mother and nurse in one to share this information.”
And fun fact: You have a MUCH higher chance of getting struck by lightning than having a severe reaction to a vaccine. Only 1 out of every million people has a severe reaction to a vaccine. In comparison, you have a 1 out of 12,000 chance of getting struck by lightning.
Fortunately, Ashley is doing well and has shown no signs of the disease, so Echols can breathe easy – for now, at least. Unfortunately, for parents of immunosuppressed children, they will always have to worry about infectious diseases. Especially now that so many other parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children.
14. As If You Didn't Love Echols Enough Already...
Not only is Echols an internet hero for taking a stand against the anti-vax movement, but she’s also an all-around amazing woman. Echols was originally Ashley’s nurse, but she eventually adopted her when Ashley’s birth mother couldn’t provide the level of care that Ashley needed. “We just had this bond,” Echols told The Daily Mail Online. “I would bring her clothes and other things. I was caring for her.”