Friday, July 1, 2016

To vaccinate or to not vaccinate, that is the question

Last week I brought my lil' bub, Alexa, with me to KL. While walking towards the Arrival Hall in KLIA, we stopped at an ATM kiosk, and (it's weird how a mum's brain tends to notice the strangest thing) nearby, a lady sneezed. I thought to myself, if this lady is carrying any viruses, Alexa could get infected. True enough (although I am not in any way blaming the lady), Alexa developed signs of fever the very next night. Her body temperature rose to 37.4 degrees celsius and we were worried enough to bring her to the doctor the very next morning.
At the doctor's office, we found that she only has a mild fever, and her throat was slightly inflamed (her tonsils were okay). So the doctor prescribed some paracetamol and gave some probiotics for her. We fed Alexa the paracetamol as scheduled (she rejected the probiotics) and gave her as much liquids as she can manage. That night, her temperature soared to above 39 degrees celsius.
The very next day, she started developing a cough. We gave her some honey to help with the cough, but by this time, it was obvious that she was not well. She did not want to speak. All she did all day is sleep (in between bottle feeds) and the only food that we managed to get into her was porridge. We decided to bring her to another doctor the next day. That night, her temperature had also risen to above 39 degrees celsius, she was clearly uncomfortable, she kept tossing and turning (she clearly couldn't sleep) and we tried our level best to make her comfortable.
By this time, it was already day 4 of her fever and day 3 of her cough. We brought her to a specialist this time. The specialist confirmed that she had fever. Body temperature was 39.4 degrees and her tonsils were swollen. The specialist prescribed a new set of meds (along with coughing syrup and antibiotics) and we stopped giving Alexa the previous doctor's medicine. That night, Alexa's temperature had still risen to above 39 degrees celsius (her body temperature seems to increase at night and it stays that way until wee hours of the morning) and because she had to fly back to Kuching with hubs the next day, we decided to hold against giving antibiotics until they were in Kuching (Doc told us to keep the antibiotics in the fridge once it's mixed with water, so we decided we could wait for a day before giving her antibiotics).

Day 5, Alexa still had the fever and cough and by now she had developed a bit of the flu as well. I told hubs that if it continues, perhaps, he could bring Alexa to another doctor the next day. That night, Alexa's body temperature had still risen to above 39 degrees. To be honest, this is the worst fever that Alexa has ever experienced in her whole life.

Day 6, hubs brought Alexa to another doctor (3 doctors in 6 days, I know) and he told Alexa to continue with the meds that the specialist had prescribed. Alexa's body temperature remained at 39 degrees. Alexa was still weak, all she did is sleep and rest all day. At night her body temperature continued to rise and her coughing was getting worst.

Day 7, hubs decided to bring Alexa to the emergency department at Normah Medical Specialist because her condition looked to be quite serious. We had both agreed that if it is necessary, perhaps Alexa is better off being warded in the hospital. The doctor inserted some medicine into her bum to reduce her body temperature and they also used the nebuliser on her. Four doctors in 7 days. Alhamdulillah from this moment onwards her body temperature slowly improved, she was still slightly feverish, but never above 39 degrees celsius.
Day 8, body temperature reduced significantly to 37.4 degrees and she started behaving normally at certain moments during the day. The cough unfortunately was still there.
Day 9, no more signs of fever *hurrah*. Until today (Day 11), it seems she is back to her usual self, body temperature is normal. However, there are still random bouts of coughing but it's not as serious as previously. Inshaa Allah, she will be in tip top condition by Eid.

Now, with the news on Diphtheria in Malaysia (here's a link to the news on Diphtheria), you must be wondering, is Alexa vaccinated?

Yes, she is. However, the child specialist (the 2nd doctor that we visited) pointed out that we forgot to give her the 18 months vaccine. In our defence, we actually did go to the doctor for the vaccine but at that time, it was out of stock and we eventually forgot to follow up with the doctor.

Second question, was it Diphtheria?

No, it was not. She did not have any signs of thick gray membrane covering her throat and tonsils and she also did not have any difficulty in breathing. Do take note that other than for that one vaccination that we forgot, Alexa has received all her vaccinations in full as recommended by the health ministry.
And if it was, Alexa would definitely had been warded (and be part of the statistics). And that was the motivation behind seeing all those doctors. You might think that it is a waste to see a doctor every two days but for us, firstly, for several days, her body temperature had actually risen to 39.4 degrees. And Diphtheria symptoms usually show 2 - 7 days after you've been infected. Although she has been vaccinated, we wanted to confirm that it was not Diphtheria (hence the different doctor visits just to make sure that we had a second, third and fourth opinion) and secondly, we also wanted to be sure that she did not need to be warded.

To this day, when I think about her condition and what she had been through, a thought goes through my mind:

If she wasn't vaccinated, could it have been Diphtheria?

In all honesty, I don't know. But one thing I do know, I don't want her to have it.

So lately there's been a lot of discussion going back and forth between pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine parents. To all parents, I respect your choice, either to vaccinated or not-vaccinate your children. I am sure you have a good reason for it. And your reasons may be justified by valid claims. However, I would like to highlight one thing:

It was so easy for Alexa to get caught with this fever and cough. Admittedly it could be due to the fact that Alexa travels a bit more than other toddlers her age. But then again, don't you think your child interacts with a lot of people throughout the day? Some may justify that their kids are homeschooled and they stay indoors all day long. But is that healthy (staying indoors all day) and the right thing for a child's development? Your child will be in contact with different people and especially for kids who are in daycare/ kindergarten, there's a lot more interaction involved.

I believe that all parents are pro-life. That's why you decided to have children in the first place. But would you be willing to risk that life? You may be able to control the food that they eat, the environment that they are in when they are at home, but you are unable to control all other various factors such as the people that they come in contact with and the environment outside your home.

This reminds me of a beautiful hadith by the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. which was reported by Anas ibn Malik,
"A man said, "O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I untie her and trust in Allah?" The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him said, "Tie her and trust in Allah."

If we were to follow that hadith, it could be adapted to the current situation as, vaccinate your children, and put your trust in Allah.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista