‘Not going to put my child at risk to save another,’ un-vaccinated family on measles

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Anna Jacks checks her baby’s forehead over and over again. Is he hot? Does he have a rash? Is his nose still runny?

Her son has been sick before, but this time it’s different: Last week Eli was at a Phoenix Children’s Hospital clinic with a woman who had the measles, which spreads easily from person to person. Now he’s showing signs of the virus, such as runny nose and cough and fatigue.

At 10 months old, Eli is too young to get vaccinated and would be especially vulnerable to serious complications of measles, such as deafness and brain damage or even death.

But his parents have an even bigger worry. If Eli does have the measles, he could give it to his 3-year-old sister, Maggie, who has leukemia.

So far Maggie is feeling fine, but her parents know that with her immune system wiped out by chemotherapy she’s even more vulnerable than her brother to complications.

“My biggest fear is that I’ll lose my child, or that she’ll become deaf,” Anna Jacks said. “My family has been through enough with cancer. I don’t want her to go through anything else.”

According to Arizona health officials, the woman at the clinic who put the Jacks children in danger was herself infected by members of a family that doesn’t vaccinate and got measles during a visit to Disneyland, where the outbreak began more than a month ago.

This week, Maggie and Eli’s father, Dr. Tim Jacks, wrote a blog post in which he expressed his feelings to this family.

“Towards you, unvaccinating parent, I feel anger and frustration at your choices,” wrote Jacks, a pediatrician. “Why would you knowingly expose anyone to your sick unvaccinated child after recently visiting Disneyland? That was a boneheaded move.”

“Your poor choices don’t just affect your child,” he continued. “They affect my family and many more like us. Please forgive my sarcasm. I am upset and just a little bit scared.”

Jacks signed the post “Papa Bear.”

The Jacks family asked a CNN crew not to enter their home or meet with Eli.

Out of an abundance of caution we also chose not to meet with Maggie or with Tim Jacks, who has limited immunity to measles.

We spoke to Anna Jacks in person because blood tests show she has complete immunity to measles.

The Jackses don’t know the identity of the vaccine refusers who put their children in danger, but Anna Jacks said she knows what she would say to them if she ever met them.

“Your children don’t live in a little bubble. They live in a big bubble and my children live inside that big bubble with your children,” she said. “If you don’t want to vaccinate your children, fine, but don’t take them to Disneyland.”

But Dr. Jack Wolfson said it’s the Jacks family who should keep themselves at home, not him.

Wolfson, an Arizona cardiologist, refuses to vaccinate his two young sons. He said the family that didn’t vaccinate and endangered the Jacks children did nothing wrong.

“It’s not my responsibility to inject my child with chemicals in order for [a child like Maggie] to be supposedly healthy,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s very likely that her leukemia is from vaccinations in the first place.”

“I’m not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure,” he added. “It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child.”

CNN asked Wolfson if he could live with himself if his unvaccinated child got another child gravely ill.

“I could live with myself easily,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate thing that people die, but people die. I’m not going to put my child at risk to save another child.”

He blamed the Jacks family for taking Maggie to the clinic for care.

“If a child is so vulnerable like that, they shouldn’t be going out into society,” he said.

Anna Jacks said she hopes vaccine refusers get educated and change their minds.

In the meantime, she prays that her daughter recovers from leukemia and that both her children avoid getting measles.

19 comments

    • Bob

      Obviously you don’t have to be illegal in this country to spread disease. It’s coming from our own ignorant and selfish citizens.

  • AconcerenedParent

    Wow….”people die”. A doctor said this!? Isn’t his job to help people NOT die? With an attitude like that, I wouldn’t want him as my dr. And what if he role was reversed….what if his “pure child” was the one with leukemia , I doubt he’d have the same thoughts then.

  • Cari Dickenson

    WOW!That So called Dr is a jerk…. Sadly I will not wish bad things on any child… But I do wish, He could be in these parents shoes. All we can say is Karma… I hope it comes back on him and not through his children.

  • Bammerz89

    That is some kind of ridiculous that a doctor could have absolutely no remorse over this. Completely ludicrous that he would not vaccinate his children and then blame the mother for taking her child to get the treatment that she needed. What a terrible person that tries to pass himself off as a doctor that took an oath to save lives.

  • Jackie Martin

    There are very ugly words for a person with this attitude. Vaccinating your child is a way to protect other children from the diseases you may bring home, since you say you are a doctor. If you do not want to vaccinate your children, then fine, but, live someplace where you are not affecting others with your non-vaccinated children. Live in your own bubble and do not come out of it. You have a responsibility to others who live in the world, if not your children. I would bet that YOU were vaccinated when you were a child. You apparently survived it. Pull your head out of that warm, dark, damp, smelly place that you have it and think about your responsibility to the rest of the world.

  • Destiny

    There is a reason we are still at least somewhat free here in America. They have a right to be in charge of their children’s care. Also isn’t the point of vaccinations is so you dont get ill? Obviously I know it’s not 100%, but if you are worried about your children get them vaccinated. There are more pressing matters in the world than forcing parents to do something they believe is harmful. Im not a conspiracy theorist, modern medicine is awesome but people also need to do their research, there are a lot of medications and procedures that are quite dangerous and unnecessary.

    • elevin76

      The problem with your logic, Destiny, is that some people cannot get vaccinated. Children under 1 year old, who are most at risk for severe and lasting damage from measles, cannot get immunized. People with repressed immune systems cannot get immunized. People allergic to the vaccine cannot get immunized. And, if you’ll kindly check EVERY STUDY EVER DONE BY RESPONSIBLE SCIENTISTS, you’ll find that the risk of getting anything problematic from a vaccine is VERY LOW.

  • Bob

    That doctor was totally correct. 100% People DO die – every single one of us. It is NOT his obligation to subject his otherwise healthy child to the risks of vaccination to protect the non-existent health of a cancer patient.

    If your child is too ill to go out in public, keep them home.

    If your autistic little monster is too antisocial to go out without threatening the well-being of my child, home school it.

    Democracy is about honoring the will and wishes of the majority, in this Democratic Republic, this is done in accordance with the Constitution.

    How did our nation turn into a country run by the sickly minority.

    • Janae

      I am guessing you have had problems with autistic children who have behavioral problems. I am a parent of two children who have autism and yes they act out sometimes, but they are not monsters. All children act out at some time in their life. Some more than others. That should never warrant a label of a monster. The problem we are having as parents of autistic children are individuals as yourself; labeling these children as monsters and telling us to hide them in the closet. There is lots of information on autism and it would do you some good to go and educate yourself. Thanks!

    • elevin76

      Dear Bob, 95% of the parents in our country DO decide to vaccinate. How is that not the majority that you say makes the rules for society? Perhaps we need a little lesson in mathematics, hmm? And people like you are, to me, as repulsive as children with Autism are, apparently, to you. So stay home and don’t go out to bother others with your stupidity and hate, please.

  • JTurner

    That is silly! Are we living in the dark ages! Vaccines work, I’l one to protl bet that Mom had a vaccine, but she won’t give her child one to protect it and others also? where the sanity in that!!!!

  • Gina Brosell

    The only problem with making anything medical mandatory is that it involves sidestepping personal belief, and that is dangerous. This time you agree with it, so do I. What about limiting the number of children in the world/country/state/county/city? What about aborting children with healthcare problems? You must step very carefully with personal rights, because the next one they step on could be yours. And with the political climate of the world today, anything is possible

  • bob

    If your child is immunized then he is not threatened by kids who are not immunized. It’s a non-issue.

    If your child has some rare condition that makes it impossible to immunize him then the risk of infection is just another problem that he, and his parents, have to deal with. It is NOT the job of the government to force people to undergo medical procedures against their wishes. And yes, a shot is a medical procedure that carries with it some risk. You don’t say, “All 350,000,000 of you have to get a shot because otherwise this one child might get the measles.” I have all the sympathy in the world for a sick child, and hate to see them isolated in order to avoid perfectly preventable diseases, but my sympathy does not trump civil rights. Protecting the minority has its limits. Today, the assumption seems to be that everyone with a “special need” MUST be accommodated no matter the cost to everyone else. We do not have a “right” to be free from bad luck.

    People love to make this about “the science”, and then use it to batter people over the head whose politics or religion they don’t approve of, but it’s not about “science.” The question is, does the government own your children or doesn’t it?

    You have a right to be an idiot, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

  • Mongrel

    Everyone seems to be blaming the children. What about the woman that passed it on, why wasn’t she immunized? She is an adult and could handle immunizations easier than a child.

  • Katie

    Wow! Just wow! Unbelievable!!! I am flabbergasted by the sheer ignorance and arrogance of the non-vaccinating Cardiologist, who, as a nurse works with Doctors on a regular basis in my career, assure you he is in the minority of physicians who feel that way!!!
    I am infuriated at the misinformation and wrongful myths that have spread like a plague of lies to the American people about the so-called harmful effects of vaccines. As an immunization nurse, I assure you I have spent hours upon hours researching and studying all about vaccines. And I adamantly stand behind the benefits of them any day! Bottom line: the fact of the matter is, that the benefits of vaccines FAR outweigh the risks, and that the hundreds of thousands of deaths that occurred annually before vaccines are now prevented. And it is stupid Americans that are refusing to vaccinate their children, who are bringing diseases back! And they ought to be ashamed of themselves!!!

  • Shannon

    didn’t dr. wolfson take an oath to first do no harm? He says his child is pure? Are other children unclean? I think those who dont vaccinate have the right not to, but they also should have the respect of not exposing their “pure” ignorance to those “unclean” healthy families.

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