It’s Max Seccia-Smith’s first birthday on Feb. 19.
But his North Burnaby parents are not celebrating yet.
They’re living in what the baby’s mother described as an agonizing fear that their baby — who was born a month premature — might have been exposed to measles during a visit to B.C. Children’s Hospital on Feb. 1.
‘We are pretty angry’
Max was too young for his vaccination, but was scheduled to get it later this week.
Now the family is stuck in isolation at their townhouse, hoping he’s healthy.
“Through the fault of parents who have decided that vaccinating their children isn’t a good idea, my son is now in this pretty scary situation. So we’re pretty angry about it. He’s in isolation on his first birthday,” said Stefania Seccia, 32.
The first-time mom got the news last Friday when a Fraser Health official called her home.
Health officials have announced that people who visited the emergency room at B.C. Children’s on Jan. 21, Jan. 23, Jan. 24 and Feb. 1 may have been exposed to a person now known to be infected with measles. Not everybody who was exposed has been notified.
“My husband and I are just completely on edge keeping our eye out for symptoms. So far he’s OK.”
The family was told to keep Max at home and to avoid exposure to other people.
Seccia is particularly worried because Max was born prematurely and underwent surgery as a newborn. She said that makes him more vulnerable to complications from the virus.
The MMR vaccine prevents measles, mumps and rubella by helping the body make antibodies to fight off the viruses. Some people fear the vaccine and refuse to immunize their children. Health officials warn that can cause outbreaks.
Nine measles cases have been reported in B.C. and there’s been an outbreak with 62 cases reported in Washington State this year.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends children receive two doses of the vaccine, one at 12 months of age and the second dose at five to six years of age.
There is no scientific evidence linking the vaccine to autism, says the CDC.
Seccia said the fact some people still believe this infuriates her. She said parents who refuse to vaccinate are “reckless” and put her tiny son at high risk.
“If [Max] does contract the measles virus he’s at the highest risk of having brain inflammation, of going deaf, having brain damage or dying,” she said.
“This is a complete nightmare. We’ve done everything right.”
She said she took Max to B.C. Children’s to deal with a minor health issue — a cold sore on his face. He’d also become dehydrated and ill with what Seccia said turned out to be a stomach virus.
Seccia had booked her son’s MMR shot days after his first birthday, but had to cancel after this scare.
“That’s the sick joke of it all,” she said.
“We can’t have visitors. We can’t see families or friends. We are stuck here,” she said. Seccia and her husband were both immunized as children and got another measles immunization before a trip to Vietnam in 2015.
Despite this, both parents are now being re-tested to see if they are contagious. Max’s dad may also have to miss work until his blood work comes back because he works at a health care facility.
CBC reached out to B.C. Children’s Hospital, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Fraser Health Authority for details, but did not immediately hear back.