WATCH ABOVE: Marianne Dimain reports on the first case of measles in York region.
TORONTO – A heart-wrenching criticism of anti-vaxxers by a Toronto-area mom who was forced to quarantine herself and her two young children for 21 days after possibly being exposed to measles has gone viral.
Jennifer Hibben-White was with her two young children at a doctor’s office in Markham on Jan.27. One was 15 days old and had not been vaccinated, the other was three-years-old and had received one of two measles vaccines. She was told on Monday that during her visit she may have been exposed to the measles virus by someone who was there an hour and half before.
She, and her infant and three-year-old have now been quarantined for 21 days while doctors wait to see if she, or either of her two children, develop symptoms.
“We are to wait at home, in isolation, until February 17th, after which the 21 days of possible incubation will have passed and we are clear.”
But she doesn’t blame the person who had measles; they had been vaccinated and didn’t know they carried the infectious disease. Instead, she blames people who’ve chosen not to get vaccinated.
“You have stood on the shoulders of our collective protection for too long. From that high height, we have given you the privilege of our protection, for free. And in return, you gave me this week,” Jennifer Hibben-White wrote on Facebook.
“A week from hell. Wherein I don’t know if my baby will develop something that has death as a potential outcome.”
That post is getting attention: it’s been shared over 200,000 times in less than 24 hours.
While the person at the office was vaccinated, the measles vaccine isn’t perfect – it protects about 95 per cent of the time. However, the more people who are vaccinated, the less chance the disease has of spreading.
Ontario has one of the most stringent vaccination policies in Canada. Kids don’t have to get vaccinated, but it is required to attend school.
Measles is an extremely contagious disease but was essentially stamped out in North America prior to 2000. But since then, as more people choose not to get vaccinated, there have been sporadic outbreaks, including over 100 people in the United States, and ten people in Quebec being diagnosed after visiting Disneyland.
READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked
Eight people in Ontario have been diagnosed with measles since New Year’s: six in Toronto, one in Niagara, and one in York Region.
Hibben-White goes on to criticize people who choose not to get vaccinated based on the myth it’s dangerous or could cause autism.
“You think you are protecting them from autism? You aren’t. There is no, none, nada, nothing in science that proves this. If you want to use Google instead of science to “prove me wrong” then I am happy to call you an imbecile as well as misinformed.”
The idea the measles vaccine causes autism is one of the most well-known myths surrounding the vaccine and has been supported by celebrities like MTV star Jenny McCarthy. But the myth is derived from a 1998 study that has since been thoroughly debunked and led to the author being charged and having his medical license revoked.
The disease can be deadly. Five Canadian children died as a result of measles between 2000 and 2011, according to Statistics Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society claims measles kills as many as 250,000 each year around the world.
Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Tuesday she finds it “irresponsible” to leave kids unvaccinated.
“If you don’t immunize your child and you send them to school potentially ill or exposed another child who may be more vulnerable than your own is at even a greater risk and that’s what concerns me the most,” she said at a news conference.
-With files from The Canadian Press