In a tragic coincidence, two different babies in Israel were both forced to struggle for their lives in the past two weeks after being infected with a rare strain of bacterial meningitis, after their parents refused to vaccinate them for the disease.
The two infants were both found to carry the haemophilus influenzae b bacteria, which was once one of the most common – and fatal – causes for meningitis in the country. However, the bacterium has grown increasingly rare since a vaccine for it was introduced into Israel's medical basket in the mid-1990's.
The father of one of the infants expressed remorse to Channel 12 News in an interview, saying "we have 8-month-old twins, they were not vaccinated because I had been exposed to information which opposes vaccines," he said. "In retrospect I regret not vaccinating the girl. Such a thing would not have happened if she had been vaccinated."
"About two weeks ago one of them had a fever and we took her to a health clinic," he said. "At first we were told it was an ear infection, we were given antibiotics but the fever did not go down. One night she started vomiting and without thinking twice we took her to the emergency room at Meir Hospital," the baby's father told Channel 12.
"We realized our daughter was in danger. The hospital psychologist had begun to prepare us for the worst case scenario. We were in a race against the clock and luckily the girl showed vitality and there was significant improvement. We're both academics, with a high awareness of health. What we went through was hell, one of the worst things I went through in my life: to know that my daughter was in danger of dying."
"The baby came to us in a life-threatening condition with high fever, apathy, multiple vomiting and excessive sleepiness," Dr. Dganit Adam Cohen, director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Meir Clalit Medical Center, told Channel 12. "Tests we did revealed that she had a bacterial infection that was previously considered "The most common meningitis in children."
She continued, saying that, "since 1994, when a vaccine for the disease had begun to be routinely given to infants from the age of two months, we rarely see cases of bacterial infection. During my 15 years of work, I have not encountered such a severe inflammation as a result of this bacterium. Fortunately, thanks to treatment, her condition stabilized and she was released home."
Also in the past two weeks, in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Schneider Medical Center, a 7-month-old baby from Bnei Brak was also hospitalized, fighting for his own life against the same rare bacterium.
His parents claimed they were afraid to take him to get his vaccinations due to the fear of going to a medical clinic during the days of the coronavirus. According to Channel 12, the baby has suffered irreversible brain damage due to inflammation. He is now hospitalized in the pediatric ward and is receiving prolonged antibiotic treatment following damage to his vision and hearing.