Deeply troubling photos of a baby named Elijah have been passed around on Facebook; they're images of Kayley Burke’s 11-month-old son covered in painful blisters and sores all over his face and body. Kayley's Facebook post comes with a message to parents everywhere: vaccinate your kids.
Elijah is too young to get the chicken pox vaccine himself. To prevent babies who are too young for the shot from contracting the disease, the mom from Australia urges parents of older children to get their kids vaccinated.
“Our poor baby boy is too young to be immunized,” she wrote. “Vaccinate your kids, people . . . Think about the risk you are putting on other helpless kids that are too young or who actually can’t be vaccinated.
To make things worse, little Elijah was also hospitalized for secondary infections caused by the chicken pox. “It’s horrible. I can’t think of anything worse than watching him go through this,” Kayley told the Sunshine Coast Daily. “I’m a strong believer in vaccinations and I’m sure if he was old enough to have the shot he wouldn’t be so sick.”
Kayley adds that she and her three-year-old daughter, who was recently vaccinated, have also contracted the disease.
Chicken pox vaccines, which may be bundled with the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (called the MMRV), are given to children between 12 and 15 months and between 4 and 6 years.
It’s uncommon for babies as old as Elijah or younger to get chicken pox, however. Most babies receive protection against the virus from their mothers while still in the womb IF the mother has had chicken pox before the pregnancy.
Chicken pox is very contagious. It spreads very easily through the air and on surfaces that an infected person has touched. Breathing in the same air as an infected person can also give you the chicken pox.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complications from a serious case of chicken pox can occur but are not common. Infants and pregnant women are at a higher risk for complications which include bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and dehydration.
The anti-vaccination movement has spurred the rise of “chicken pox parties” where parents and their kids gather to intentionally have the children infected with the disease by exposing them to an already infected child. Many experts have condemned the practice as dangerous and highly unnecessary, especially when vaccines are readily available and very effective.