The real risk of exposing innocent people to dangerous disease by children not vaccinated was presented tonight on NBC’s Chicago Med. In “Intervention,” young Shiloh was brought into the ER by her concerned parents. After a brief exam, the real possibility that the child may have meningitis or even something worse was feared. Her parents, both engineers with an obvious penchant for overusing medical websites, agreed to tests.
When the results of the tests came back, the doctors explained to the parents the diagnosis was Haemophilus Influenza B, which normally would have been eliminated in a standard vaccination regimen. Oh, did I mention that Shiloh wasn’t vaccinated? Yeah. They’re THOSE kind of parents.
Dr. Natalie: It depends. Haemophilus influenza B can often be contained with the antibiotics we're giving her now, but not always.
Mom: And if it's not contained?
Dr. Natalie: It can cause hearing loss, brain injury... Even death.
Dad: Well, I've never even heard of it. How'd she get it?
Dr. Natalie: Well, that is the question. It's part of the standard vaccination regimen. Is Shiloh vaccinated?
Dr. Halstead: Are any of them?
Dr. Natalie: Type B is transmitted by saliva, which makes incidental contacts like Dr. Halstead and I not at risk, but any of her long-term close contacts are. We'll notify the school, but in the meantime, you'll each need to be immunized.
Dad: I'm not sure we want that.
Dr. Natalie: Mr. Kane, I think it's very--
Dr. Halstead: Your children are at serious risk.
Mom: We feel vaccinations pose a serious risk as well.
Dr. Halstead: That is not true.
Dad: Doctors are about intervention. I get it. But left alone, the body has a perfectly good immune system, and once you start injecting it with foreign proteins and preservatives, you can't help but change that.
Mom: Right now, all our other children seem to be fine, and Shiloh's in there all alone. Can we just go be with her?
Dr. Natalie: Of course you can. We'll send someone in to watch your other children. Thank you.
The doctors must go to Shiloh’s school to vaccinate her schoolmates who have been exposed to her illness, as it is spread by saliva. Anyone who has been in close contact with the child is at risk. While there, Shiloh’s teacher suffers from sudden illness – she stops breathing. Dr. Natalie is first to her rescue and begins mouth to mouth resuscitation until more help gets to the classroom. The risk here is for Dr. Natalie, who is a new mom. Dr. Halstead – a potential love interest – is horrified to find her in this predicament.
Once back at the hospital with the teacher, Dr. Halstead lays into the parents, exposing the selfishness of their decision not to vaccinate their children – that decision has real consequences for everyone around them.
Dr. Natalie: Theresa Schroeder. Haemophilus influenza B. Cracked her in the field.
Nurse: The EMT is waiting for you in trauma three.
Dr. Natalie: All right.
Mom: Terry? Shiloh's teacher?
Dr. Halstead: This is what happens when you don't vaccinate.
Dad: You don't know that this was Shiloh's fault.
Dr. Halstead: That lady almost died, and she may have infected my friend, who has a newborn baby.
Dad: Terry's probably sick because her immune system is shot from a lifetime of vaccinations.
Dr. Halstead: That's ridiculous.
Dad: You docs, you think you know it all. How--how many times you been wrong? Urine therapy? Radium for diarrhea? How many approved drugs need to be pulled every year 'cause they're killing people? Fen-phen or Vioxx, Raptiva.
Dr. Halstead: There's no evidence the hib vaccine has any negative side effects.
Mom: How can you be sure? Kids get the vaccine when they're babies. Who knows what the long-term effects will be?
Dad: For Shiloh's long-term health and happiness, we'll risk a treatable childhood illness.
Dr. Halstead: So no child should be vaccinated, right? You want your kids in a school where no one's protected from polio, smallpox.
Dr. Natalie: Will, enough –
Dr. Halstead: No. You trot out this pseudoscience, but what you really want is for every other kid to be vaccinated so yours can be safe.
It was refreshing to see some real pushback on these parents, who were smug in their certainness that modern medicine jeopardizes young immune systems when, in reality, modern medicine saved their child when that decision turned south.