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Oregon's first tetanus case in 30 years was unvaccinated 6-year-old boy


Child spent 47 days in intensive care and hospital bills reached almost a $1 million

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control, citing the Oregon Health Authority, outlines the case of a 6-year-old boy who was diagnosed with the first case of tetanus in 30 years in the state.

The child was not vaccinated, and that revelation comes after news of a large outbreak of measles in both Oregon and Washington state, also the result of children who were not vaccinated.

In the tetanus case, the precipitating incident occurred in 2017 when the child was cut while playing outside. Summarizing the CDC's recently released finding, ABC News reported that the child was diagnosed after symptoms including lockjaw presented, and he eventually ended up in the ICU for 47 days, and further hospitalization for 10 days after that.

The family's total charges for the hospital stay were $811,929, not including air transportation, rehabilitation and follow-up costs, per the report, which noted the average pediatric hospitalization in the U.S. in 2012 cost $11,143.

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made news when he questioned the idea of mandatory vaccinations.

In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, specifically dealing with how vaccination is used to prevent public health catastrophes, Paul equated mandatory immunization with the loss of liberty.

"It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines," Paul said in the hearing. "Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines."

"I'm not here to say don't vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I'm all for the persuasion. I've vaccinated myself and I've vaccinated my kids," he added. "For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks, but I still don't favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security."

It was not clear why the sense of security would be "false" if, as Paul said, the vaccines have great benefits. In a comment to Newsweek after the hearing, Paul said his position "is the same that it's always been." He also questioned the concept of herd immunity, resulting in pushback from Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.), a fellow Republican who is also a physician.

"Hospitals commonly require their employees to be immunized, because they understand that herd immunity is important, and if a nurse's aide is not immunized, she can be a Typhoid Mary, if you will, bringing disease to many who are immunocompromised," he explained to Paul.

Just one day before that hearing, yet another study found what many others have found: that there is no link between the measles vaccine and autism.

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