Unvaccinated Boy with Tetanus Costs His Family $1M Hospital Bills

The unvaccinated boy's tetanus was severe from early on and it is absolutely life-threatening.

Unvaccinated Boy Costs $1M Hospital Bills

On Tuesday, The Oregonian reported that the family of an unvaccinated boy who was affected by life-threatening tetanus in 2017 had to face hospital bills of nearly $1 million.

Citing federal health officials, the daily newspaper based in Portland reported that the boy was hospitalized for 57 days, costing his family nearly $1 million. Apart from that, the family had to pay for charges that include air transportation to the hospitals and rehabilitation care for 17 days.

According to the newspaper, the family stilled declined to have the boy vaccinated even after getting hospitalized for so many days. The boy contracted tetanus after cutting his forehead on the family’s farm and within a few days he had locked jaw and could not open his mouth.

Dr. Carl Eriksson, MD Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, told The Oregonian, “The boy’s tetanus was severe from early on. It is absolutely life-threatening. It’s always hard to watch a child suffer. It is harder when we know they are suffering from something that’s preventable and obviously we do everything we can to try to avoid those situations.”

Dr. Eriksson added that even after several attempts to convince the boy’s parents to get him fully vaccinated, they declined to do so.

He explained that this incident is eye-opening to a lot of people when it comes to vaccination. “It reminds us that vaccine-preventable illnesses are terrible diseases that are often life-threatening and we’re not used to seeing them so when a case like this does come along it’s definitely eye-opening to a lot of people,” stated Dr. Eriksson.

Tetanus is one of the serious diseases caused by a bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system, resulting in painful muscle contractions, especially of the jaw and neck muscles. It can interfere with the ability to breathe, which could be life-threatening. Also called “lockjaw,” tetanus is preventable with a vaccine.

Tetanus cases in the United States and other parts of the world are quite rare, thanks to the tetanus vaccine. However, it remains a threat to people who choose not to take a shot. Please note that there is no cure for tetanus. The medical management includes treating the complications until the effects of the tetanus toxin subside.