An unvaccinated 6-year-old boy in Oregon contracted tetanus in 2017. He then spent 57 days in the hospital, at a cost of more than $800,000, in order to save his life. While there, the boy received one dose of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. However, his family then refused a second dose of the vaccine.
According to the New York Post, the young boy cut his forehead while playing on a farm. His wound was “cleaned and sutured at home.” However, emergency services were called after the boy started showing some worrying symptoms six days later. These symptoms included crying, jaw clenching, involuntary muscle spasms, and trouble breathing, according to the report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.
Emergency medical services then air-transported the boy to a pediatric medical center where he was diagnosed with tetanus. He was placed in a special intensive care room in order to manage the dangerous bacterial infection. While there, the lights were dimmed in order to help control the muscle spasms. In addition, a tracheostomy was performed to help the boy breathe and he was also placed on prolonged ventilator support, according to USA Today.
In addition to the DTaP vaccine, the boy was also given tetanus immune globulin, which is a “medication made up of antibodies,” according to the New York Post.
After 50 days in the hospital, the boy was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he spent another seven days until he was released from the hospital. The entire medical bill totaled $811,929. It is unclear if the parents had any form of medical insurance to help cover these costs or what percentage of costs were covered by insurance.
During the boy’s time in the hospital, he received one dose of DTaP vaccine. However, when offered a second dose, regardless of the terrifying ordeal, his parents refused the vaccine. No reason has been recorded for their refusal.
“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 CDC report states.
While the boy survived this dangerous disease, it does not mean he has now built up antibodies against tetanus. The only reliable way to prevent tetanus is to be vaccinated against the illness. According to the CDC, adults should receive the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine every 10 years as a booster to help protect against the bacterial disease.