Measles outbreak too close to home

A Chilliwack mom fears the recent measles outbreak could harm her son's health and others without immunity.

Amanda Sewell has to keep her three-year-old son

A Chilliwack mother wishes parents would consider the dangers they’re putting on others when opting not to vaccinate their children.

For more than two weeks Amanda Sewell has lived with fear in her heart because of the measles outbreak.

The mother of three has essentially quarantined her three-year-old son Ian since first hearing of the outbreak.

It’s not the first time.

Ian had a liver transplant at eight months old.

Baby Ian

The now active toddler was born with a blockage in his bile ducts preventing the removal of bodily wastes from his liver which could have resulted in liver damage or cirrhosis – both potentially fatal.

Prior to the transplant, Ian was put on an accelerated vaccination schedule; he wouldn’t be allowed live vaccination, measles, mumps, rubella, post-operation. As such, he only received one of the measles’ vaccinations.

As well, the anti-rejection medications he requires to keep his liver protected weaken his immune system, and his doctors don’t know what sort of antibodies, if any, his replacement liver came with.

“Ian’s body has a harder time fighting off infections and diseases,” said Sewell.

“He does have some vaccinations, but who’s to say it’s sufficient enough to fight [measles] off, or to fully protect him.”

Every time Chilliwack suffers an infectious outbreak, Sewell’s family goes into damage control.

They keep Ian at home. If they must go out, they Lysol everything he might touch, and sometimes even strap a surgical mask over his mouth and nose.

It’s not the way Sewell envisioned raising her child, but until all children are vaccinated, it’s the way she must.

“Typical three-year-olds would be in preschool and swimming lessons and sporting activities, but for his protection, he can’t really be involved in those types of things,” said Sewell.

“It’s hard because you’re denying him typical, growing-up experiences when outbreaks like this occur.”

As of this week, there were 228 confirmed cases of measles in the Fraser East region. Largely these cases have been contained to a small religious community in East Chilliwack linked to the Reformed Congregation of North America. However, there have also been confirmed cases reported at BCIT in Burnaby, UFV Abbotsford, and at one of Chilliwack’s public schools.

Choosing her words carefully, Sewell expresses disappointment in those who choose not to vaccinate.

“It’s upsetting,” she said.

“The hope is that the transplant will sustain Ian through his lifetime, but there’s no guarantees. Transplants aren’t cures, they’re only treatments to a condition. Having gone through all that, I’m going to do whatever I can to protect him.

“You can’t force anyone to vaccinate,” said Sewell. “But maybe they’ll think twice about their choices. If you vaccinate your own children, you can protect them from disease, and you can also help protect kids like Ian, or cancer kids going through chemo, or others who don’t have immunity.”

For information on vaccine clinics, visit

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Spirit Abreast team searching for new paddlers

As dragon boat season approaches, breast-cancer-focused team holds annual meet and greet

B.C. Lion legend Angus Reid brings o-line expertise to Chilliwack

The longtime Canadian Football League center will run a camp in Chilliwack March 31.

Speculation tax causing concern at Cultus Lake, Harrison Hot Springs

Recreational property owners face hefty bill for 2019 for what some call a ‘wealth’ tax

Spartan grad shines at NCAA Div-II swimming nationals

Jessie Gibson earned All-American status in four events and smashed Simon Fraser team records.

VIDEO: All-midget wrestling shows in Cloverdale, Chilliwack this weekend

Company boss Short Sleeve Sampson: ‘It’s midget wrestling, and it’s always been midget wrestling’

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

Body of missing Australian woman found in Whistler lake

RCMP say they do not suspect foul play in Allison Raspa’s death

VIDEO: Police officer looking for distracted drivers gets hit by truck

Road safety investigator clipped by trailer while patrolling busy intersection

YVR wants you to help name three new puppies

Say hello to the Vancouver Airport’s new assistance pups

COLUMN: Fundraiser helps Abbotsford family fulfill $100K goal for BC Children’s Hospital

Five years after setting their goal, Team Miracle Maya surpasses their target

Suspect who attacked autistic man in Ontario could be from B.C.’s south coast: police

29-year-old man was sent to hospital with serious injuries

Privacy watchdog to explore Facebook leak

Canadian expert says his analytics company helped Trump campaign capitalize on private Facebook info

Woman struck and killed by self-driving Uber vehicle

Ride-hailing company suspends all road-testing of such vehicles in U.S. and Canada

Most Read