Jilly Moss wants all parents to know what it’s like to take care of a child with the measles.
In April, Moss posted a series of heartbreaking photos of her daughter Alba on Facebook to help educate the public on the importance of vaccinations. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella, and children usually get doses after age one.
“She was too young for her MMR vaccination when she got sick which meant she has had to fight this killer virus with no immunity,” she wrote. “Measles is not ‘just a rash,’ it can cause blindness, encephalitis and pneumonia.”
The London-based mother added she was asked by doctors and nurses at the Chelsea West Hospital to share photos of Alba, who is now on the road to recovery.
“I hope we can carry on raising awareness of how dangerous this virus can be to young and vulnerable babies and people… It’s such a controversial subject there are many many views on it,” she added on social media. “The main thing is we are talking about it and we are educating ourselves.”
Baby Alba. Credit: Facebook/Jilly Moss
According to CNN, the 11-month-old child was taken to hospital last month after her fever hit almost 42°C (107.6°F). The site noted her eyes were swollen shut and doctors had to give her medication to prevent blindness.
“It has been absolutely horrific watching our daughter fight this with her eyes swollen shut for four days,” Moss continued on social media. “She has been in the dark, scared with a high fever that lasted for over two weeks.”
At the hospital, she added, Alba was scanned, sent for X-rays, had blood taken and was even tube-fed.
“The truth is, this all could have been prevented if the protection layer of older kids above Alba had been vaccinated.”
Moss told CNN she was also misdiagnosed because doctors had not seen measles before. Every time she was sent home, she became worse.
“I think it’s important that you know I’m not one of these people who are crazy pro-vaccine and is saying, ‘You must do this,’ and is throwing it down people’s throats,” Moss told the news site. “All I want to do is educate people because we as parents did not understand how sick measles could make our baby.”
Vaccinations before one
According to HealthLinkBC, MMR vaccines are not recommended for infants under 12 months.
“Infants under 12 months of age may not respond to the measles component of the vaccine due to the presence of antibodies received from their mother during pregnancy,” the site noted.
The vaccine is only recommended for babies under 12 months (six to 11 months) if the child is travelling to regions with ongoing measles outbreaks.
“Such infants would still require two doses of MMR vaccine after 12 months of age.”
Children are given two doses of the vaccine. The first dose at 12 months and the second is between the ages of four and six. Older children or teens who have not been vaccinated should also get two doses.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, coughing, runny noses, a rash and red, swollen eyes.
Measles in Canada
Prior to an outbreak in Vancouver, the disease had been eliminated in Canada in 1998. Health Canada noted in 2019, there have been 43 cases of measles reported in Québec, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Ontario and Alberta.
In B.C., there have been 26 confirmed cases of measles this year, and six of them were listed as possible public exposure, the BC Centre for Disease Control reported.
“Individuals most at risk from measles are those who are completely unvaccinated against the disease including babies under one year of age. Individuals born after 1970 should have received two doses of a measles vaccine (often given as combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR) to be protected,” the centre noted.
The centre added people born after 1970 should have received two doses of a measles vaccine, and those born before were assumed to “have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection.”
“Therefore MMR vaccine is not recommended for these individuals. However, health-care workers born between 1957 and 1969 are recommended to have two doses of MMR vaccine. ”
Dr. Noni MacDonald, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Dalhousie University, previously told Global News, to protect the population from measles, the vaccination rate needs to be about 95 per cent (Canada’s overall rate is about 89 per cent according to a 2015 Statistics Canada survey).
“What we do need to know is exactly where pockets of under-immunizations exist, which you’re not going to get from a national-level survey for instance,” she said. In Canada, each province maintains its own vaccination registry.
“You cannot assume, for example with measles, that even though you didn’t get your kid immunized, your kid is going to be fine because everyone else in your child’s school got immunized,” she said. “It’s likely that other parents at the school also haven’t gotten their children immunized either.”
— With files from Leslie Young