I hinted at this story in a chapter of “The Poxes”. What you are about to read is real. It really did happen. However, due to privacy concerns, I will not disclose some of the information like the real name of the person, where they lived, where they travelled, etc. It is also not meant to scare you into getting a vaccine or not traveling to a part of the world where there is a lot of a vaccine-preventable disease. The main aim of this story is to let you know that these things happen, and they are happening at a higher rate than any vaccine injury you can think of. Also, “The Poxes” is on hiatus. I’m working with a colleague who is better at writing than I am to refine the story and expand it into a good, gripping tale for you all to read. My version ended in two more chapters. The ideas we’ve been tossing around take us into about 30 chapters with the same conclusion I had in my head, only with more blood and guts. So stay tuned for that. Until then, I give you Stacy’s story. (Again, that’s not her real name.)
Stacy was a young woman from a well-to-do family in the suburbs of northern Virginia. She was well-educated, somewhat religious, and she always wanted to travel abroad. Stacy met a young man in college and they both found out that they had a calling in their hearts to help less fortunate people in other countries. For their wedding, their friends and family got money together and, along with their church, bought them a honeymoon in a third world country on the other side of the world. They would get to see exotic places and animals for a couple of weeks then buckle down and work for the people there for an additional three months. Stacy was ecstatic.
Six weeks into their trip, Stacy noticed that her period was late. A quick trip to a larger city near the village where they were staying confirmed that she was pregnant. Because prenatal care was sort of rustic, Stacy’s family implored her to return to the States. She told them that her heart was telling her to stay and that she was only going to be there another two months anyway. If anything were to happen, the plan was to take her to the city and fly her to a more developed nation as soon as possible. Two weeks later, a young woman came to their church with a fever and a strange rash over her body. Stacy was one of the people who took her to the city in a car.
Two days after that, Stacy received a visit from a doctor from the city. The doctor was in the village with a group of public health workers from the government. They were there to vaccinate the village with the MMR vaccine since the young woman was found to have German Measles. Stacy and her husband both refused the vaccine. Her husband was vaccinated as a child and, according to him, he had a “vaccine injury”. Stacy grew up in a family and belonged to a church that discouraged vaccination. When the doctor found out that Stacy was pregnant, he told her all about Congenital Rubella Syndrome. He had seen plenty of cases of children with deformations, blindness, deafness, and stillbirths because of it. Stacy prayed about it for a bit, called her parents in the States, and she refused the vaccine. God, her health, and her diet were going to protect her baby. Her parents assured her of it.
Stacy finally returned to the States and almost immediately went to see an obstetrician. An ultrasound revealed that her child had heart defects. Her blood tests came back positive for exposure to German Measles. That finding was significant since she was not vaccinated. All that Stacy remembered as far as an illness were one or two days of feeling sick to her stomach, maybe a slight fever, a swollen neck gland, but no rash. And it happened weeks after the girl was sick, so Stacy thought nothing of it. Based on the ultrasound findings and the blood tests, it was recommended to Stacy and her husband that they consider terminating the pregnancy. They refused on religious grounds.
Stacy’s baby was born with cataracts over its eyes, several heart defects, and a smaller-than-average head. The baby died ten days after birth from the complications of the heart abnormalities.
It may seem like these things happen in far away places to undesirable/unlucky/unfortunate people, but, because of the way that we live and travel, it can happen right here, right now, to anyone in the most powerful nation in the world. Whatever your fears are about vaccines and their safety, they are tiny in comparison to the horrors that thousands of women like Stacy go through in other parts of the world. If you’re a pregnant woman who is unvaccinated, please consider getting vaccinated. If you’re traveling abroad, please get all of your recommended vaccines as well.