A 6-year-old boy who didn't receive childhood vaccinations nearly died after contracting tetanus in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is Oregon's first pediatric case of this kind in decades.
The CDC released a case report Friday, detailing the incident in 2017. While playing outside on a farm, the boy busted his forehead open. The wound was cleaned and stitched at home. Six days later, the boy's muscles were spasming, his jaw clenching and he had trouble breathing. Doctors diagnosed him with tetanus and admitted him to an intensive care room.
He couldn't open his mouth, continued to spasm and developed hypertension. Doctors gave him a variety of medications to control pain, blood pressure and manage his muscle outbursts.
On day five in the hospital, doctors opened his neck and gave him a tracheostomy so that he could breathe, the report states. He was placed on prolonged ventilator support.
After about 50 days in the hospital, he showed promise: He was able to walk 20 feet with assistance. Days later, he was transferred to a rehab facility.
In total, he was in the hospital for 57 days and his care totaled $811,929, according to the CDC. A month after inpatient rehab, he was able to run again.
But, even after contracting a life-threatening infection that might have been prevented by a vaccine, his family stood firm on their anti-vax stance.
"Despite extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians, the family declined the second dose of DTaP and any other recommended immunizations," the case report states.
The DTaP vaccine (for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough) is effective for 8 to 9 in 10 children who get it, according to the CDC.
His family is part of a small but growing group of adults refusing to vaccinate their children. While the reason behind their decision wasn't made public, some anti-vaxxers cite a discredited belief that vaccines cause autism. Recently, another large-scale study further reinforced that vaccines do not cause autism by looking at any autism connection between the measles vaccine and more than half a million children.