- EXCLUSIVE Sophie Dale was conflicted on whether to get her son vaccinated
- She was left with no choice after Levi became seriously ill with measles
- Miss Dale hopes her ordeal will persuade other parents to get child vaccinated
After reading scare stories online, Sophie Dale was struggling to decide whether to get her baby son Levi vaccinated.
‘I would see other mums on Facebook share posts saying it causes autism,’ she said. ‘I was scared and wasn’t sure what to do.’
In the end, the young mother had no choice. Levi contracted measles two weeks before he turned one, the age when children become eligible for the MMR jab.
The infection began as a rash but within days his immune system had shut down. Levi spent his first birthday hooked up to a drip in hospital, fighting for his life as sepsis ravaged his body.
Miss Dale, 23, said: ‘He woke up with a temperature and a rash and we took him to the GP, who suspected measles. We were sent to A&E and Levi was formally diagnosed and I was told to keep him away from everyone.
‘I began to realise how serious it was when Public Health England rang me and asked a million questions. They even sent someone round to my house for swabs.’
Levi spent two weeks recovering at home in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, before his condition suddenly deteriorated. Miss Dale said: ‘He began to have seizures, his face was swollen and his temperature was up to 40.6C (105F). It was terrifying.
‘We called an ambulance and he was blue lighted to hospital where he was treated for secondary infections including sepsis, encephalitis and pneumonia.’
Levi spent six days at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire, where he was sedated, had a lumbar puncture and was pumped with antibiotics.
Now almost two, he has made a full recovery. Miss Dale hopes her ordeal will persuade other parents to act and has backed the Daily Mail’s vaccination campaign.
The criminology graduate said: ‘I was naive and hadn’t realised how dangerous measles can be. It’s not just a rash – one in 15 children develop complications including encephalitis, convulsions, meningitis or deafness.
‘Vaccinating is not just about protecting your children, it’s other people’s children too. Levi got measles because of someone else’s choice not to vaccinate.’
Miss Dale admitted she had had concerns about MMR, but decided she would go ahead even before he fell ill. ‘He almost died, and I know I would never have forgiven myself if he’d got measles because I chose not to vaccinate him,’ she said.
Miss Dale is encouraging parents who, like her, have doubts to look for reliable information from their GP or the NHS. She warned that social media and discussion forums are a breeding ground for scare stories and ‘anti-vaxx’ propaganda.
‘Do your research. Don’t read rubbish articles from weird American websites,’ she said.
The mother-of-one added that she sees posts ‘every day’ on Facebook spreading false information.
‘They say vaccines are propaganda from the pharmaceutical industry or that measles can be prevented with good hygiene,’ she said. ‘These sort of messages are putting children in danger.’
Uganda Health News is campaigning to improve the uptake of all childhood immunisations, after a number of negative media messages about the on going measles-rubella immunisation campaign. The campaign has been backed by the Ministry of Health.