Parents are supposed to be looking out for what's best for their children. It's just what parents are supposed to do. Some parents, however, think they know better... better than modern medicine, better than doctors, and better than their sick and dying kids. These parents are often so consumed with being right about the nature of vaccines that they will sacrifice the health and lives of their own sons and daughters because they came to a conclusion after reading an ill-sourced article from a quack doctor.
The doctors in the following stories know those parents all too well as they recently shared with Reddit. Take a look at some of the craziest stories from the bunch. All posts have been edited for clarity.
Autism Doesn’t Kill
“I work as a consultant in a palliative care practice. We help families navigate complex and often difficult decisions in acute illness. My worst experience was in the critical care unit. A woman in her early 60s and otherwise healthy got the flu from her grandchild who was not vaccinated and neither was anyone in the family.
‘Faith is strong,’ the woman said as she was on a ventilator for respiratory failure. Then the vent was not enough and she was placed on a heart lung bypass. Her kidneys shut down and continuous dialysis was started. She developed a GI bleed from the acute distress. Eventually got off ECMO but needed permanent ventilation.
Visitors could not comprehend that this was the flu. Her father became an ICU patient after a week of declining to wear a mask. Not sure if his exposure was extended family or the patient. His sister (the patient’s aunt) also got admitted but stayed out of the ICU. They were two of six patients in the ICU because of the flu. As I met with extended family and discussed permanent ventilation, feeding tube, long term dialysis, vent facility placement, lack of consciousness, they kept asking how could we have prevented this. One adamant ‘google doctor’ daughter kept spouting debunked autism claims relating to vaccination.
I finally looked at her and said, ‘Your mother is not dying from autism.’ The dad was old and went into heart failure and died two days later. The patient struggled for a month before becoming septic and dying in full life support. The aunt survived as far as I know. Not sure if that meeting was a come to Jesus moment for the family.”
Hopefully They Made An Impact
“The most memorable encounter I had was while I was on a plane and the person next to me finds out I’m a doctor, which leads to all sorts of questions. She asked me about what I thought about vaccines as she has not vaccinated her children and was more on the herbal supplements/naturopathic side of medicine. It took about 30 minutes to respectfully talk about the history of vaccines and their effectiveness, how they require billions in research for not just the benefits but the risks as well, and how we don’t get kick-backs from big pharma for encouraging their use, and how the autism connection was a hoax that required even more money and research to prove there was no connection.
She also talked about failed vaccines that didn’t end up showing benefits or too much risk as well as those for special cases (yellow fever and rabies) and therefore are not standard of care. I talked about how we have to see patient by patient who would benefit from a vaccine and who would be placed in undo harm. Also talked about my friend who had Vaccine preventable meningitis as a kid that left her scarred with multiple medical problems that ended up needing a kidney transplant. She was actually pretty receptive and respectful to the debate and ended up asking me how she could start having her kids vaccinated (just going to the pediatrician) and if she can do an alternate schedule (likely no need, but better than nothing).
Hopefully she ended up doing that.”
That’s Not How Growth Works
“My most memorable one was a night shift last year in Perth with a couple that were refusing the Neonatal Screening Test (a genetic screen for major diseases like CF). I came on shift at 10 pm and got asked to see them. We started chatting and their logic was that they had two healthy children (who didn’t have anything flag on their NST) so it’s impossible for them to have a third child with genetic issues. I guess it was a really poor understanding of genetics that drove this one. I busted out some Mendel and punnett squares and they seemed to come around.
The more comfortable they were with me, the more questionable ideas came out. There was the usual ‘vaccines cause autism’ which mum was worried about because she was an early childhood worker who was seeing first hand the increases in autism cases in recent years (mainly because we’re getting better at diagnosing it earlier, and have much better awareness of early symptoms among parents). She was suggesting a delayed schedule of vaccinations, which was reasonable based on her particular fears – I didn’t fight too hard on this one, since she was vaccinating eventually.
Then, I noticed that they had declined the Vitamin K shot at birth. Vitamin K is given as an intramuscular injection to combat Vit K deficiency very common to newborns. The lack of vitamin K at birth can lead to the equivalent of overdosing on warfarin – the baby bleeds a lot. The most risky areas for this to happen is in the brain and the bones of the skull, leading to either brain damage or death due to blood loss. Vit K doesn’t get transferred by nursing, and the supplement is not reliable at all, so an IM injection is the best way to deliver this to babies.
A lot of parents have objections to this. I had come across many who just didn’t want to have their baby get a needle as their first experience on Earth, others believed a vague report from the 1990s that suggested Vit K causes cancer. This couple blindsided me with their explanation for why they didn’t want this injection. In their research, they had come across the fact that Vitamin K-gated channels in cells regulate cell growth. They extrapolated from this information that Vitamin K levels controlled rate of growth for the entire human organism. They pointed out to me that if humans kept growing at the rate they did in the womb after being born, they would be six feet tall by the time they turned a year old. Hence, the vitamin K deficiency at birth was a physiological mechanism to slow growth.
I was very surprised by this. I told them that I’ve never come across a 6 foot tall 1-year-old, but that I would go away and research their concerns and return to them later if they were still awake, or swing by in the morning. I couldn’t find any solid evidence linking vitamin K to behemoth babies and talked it through with them the next morning. In the end, they agreed to the NST, were still very hesitant regarding vaccines, and I can’t remember where we landed on Vitamin K.”
Such Reckless Parents!
“I had a 7-year-old showing signs of a serious illness. Her teachers initially noticed it before anyone else. The child had been sick for a few days, which turned into a couple weeks. The teachers told the parents over and over that something was wrong. The parents ignored the signs and claimed it was nothing bad, or it was a cold, something minor, etc.
They finally came to me and the child showed signs of Measles. Within about 10-15 minutes, I indicated that this is not a cold and this seemed to be measles (based on what they verbalized to me and what I saw). To confirm, I examined the child’s inner cheek and did a full body exam where she (the child, not the parents) pointed out a rash. Both of these incidences pointed to the measles.
The parents indicated that they did not believe in vaccines because their previous doctor told them it was unnecessary, as long as the child ate healthy and stayed active (it was a family friend who worked in Naturopathic medicine, not a licensed doctor). After making the diagnosis and having a very tough conversation and informational session with the parents, I provided them with prescriptions to help with the measles and bring as much comfort as possible to their child. I had to break down that their child could’ve infected children and families with a very dangerous but preventable disease. Their child also could’ve had permanent brain and nerve damage. Finally, this child could have actually died (I didn’t curse at them but boy did I want to).
The child had Measles for at least a month before seeing me. To show how serious this is, Measles does not show signs or symptoms in some cases for 10-14 days. So because they refused to vaccinate their child, at least 2-3 weeks of exposure to other kids and teachers went by. Somehow they were able to bypass school district requirements for getting vaccines (they did NOT have a religious exemption).”
“Yes, This Is Their Fault”
“I had a pediatric patient that left a mark on me. It was an 18-month-old admitted to a community hospital’s pediatric unit with respiratory symptoms.
I noticed right away this kid was working hard to breathe. She started getting worse. I started to worry because kids don’t give warning when they crash, they just crash fast. Talking with the other nurse, I mentioned that the child was unvaccinated. As soon as I said it, I realized it could be epiglottitis. I remembered in nursing school learning about how dangerous epiglottitis was, and the professor saying they used to see it all the time, kids would drop dead, but how we would never see it because kids are vaccinated against what causes it.
I called the doctor, I said what was on my mind and that she needed to put in for transfer. She thought I was over reacting. I didn’t wait and called the children’s hospital, went through the situation, I ended with, ‘Send the helicopter, now.’
The mom asked if this was her fault. Now, I had told her when we started escalating care that because she was unvaccinated it meant we were ruling out more serious things. The other nurse I was working with looked this woman in the eye and said, ‘Yes. This is your fault.’
I sincerely hope that led to this kid getting vaccinated. She did live. Incubated upon arrival to the children’s hospital, spent two weeks in the PICU, but she did live.”
Just Get The Vaccine
“I worked in a pediatric ED for many years. I once had a young boy come in, don’t remember exactly how old, maybe 8 or 9. He came in lethargic and stiff as a board. We took him to the resuscitation room and did all the full work up stuff including a spinal tap. It took some work to try to position him because he was so stiff.
The doctor was able to get into the intervertebral space and a milky fluid literally shot out of the needle and onto her chest. She hooked up the manometer to measure the pressure and the fluid climbed all the way to the top and out even with the extension added to it. I had never seen that before in hundreds of taps. I don’t remember pressure, but as you can imagine it was astronomically high. We got the kid as stable as we could and transferred him to the PICU. He ended up living, but lost three of his extremities due to sepsis. As well as severe cognitive impairment as a result of the high pressures. Cultures showed H flu meningitis, which is the most common form of meningitis. He was never vaccinated.
The HIB vaccine is 95% effective in preventing meningitis. It was sobering to watch the parents realize their decision to withhold a vaccine has unimaginably altered the course of their lives and the life of their child.”
Rookie Mistake Talking To These Crazies
“I’m a resident in emergency medicine, I was working at the children’s emergency department and this woman brought her 10-month-old boy in with a fever and I asked the usual questions we ask for any child with a fever, one of them was, ‘Does your child have his shots?’
She said no, so I asked her why and she started to explain to me how she saw a lot about vaccines from posts on Facebook, and how vaccines do more harm and the companies who made them lie to make more money from it and the government is not doing anything, and how she is proud of her other kid (8 years old) who had measles and chickenpox and now he’s immunized in ‘the natural way.’
So again, I asked her if vaccines are useless, why did he get these infections and other children didn’t. She said yeah it helped them but she saw this video on Facebook of a child who start seizing after being vaccinated. I tried to explain the concept of benefits and risks and how the benefits of vaccines outweigh their risks by a large margin, I provided graphs of measles and chickenpox deaths and cases per year before and after the introduction of the vaccine.
So I asked her: why did you come to the hospital? Why would you listen to my recommendations when it is not related to vaccines, but not when it comes to vaccines? You won’t trust any doctor’s opinion? She said that things change over time and doctors find out that they were wrong about things and they change it later on. She went on to say that we will see in the future when we find out vaccines do more harm than benefit.
At that point I realized it is just pointless after over an hour of debate. I left and told my attending (who happened to be an attending of pediatrics emergency medicine for 25+ years) and he replied with, ‘Ohhh the rookie mistake!’ Clearly he had some experiences before and gave up already.”
Now They Want The Vaccine
“A woman came in with two children, a boy and a girl. She was totally against getting her kids shots, that is, until the day she came in. She had tons of completely insane ‘research’ from conspiracy blogs. Her children had never received their shots, but she now wanted to get her daughter vaccinated. Hooray! A win for science and herd immunity.
Well, it turned out the reason she decided to get her daughter vaccinated was because her OTHER daughter was critically ill in the ICU with a vaccine-preventable illness. The nurse in the ICU finally convinced her to get her second daughter vaccinated, by explaining to the woman that nurses rarely see cases like hers anymore due to the success of vaccinations. She couldn’t figure out how her daughter had caught such a disease. We asked her if the daughter had any contacts, maybe in church or school, who weren’t vaccinated. She responded that none of her church or school community vaccinate their children.
We started the daughter with her vaccinations. We then turned and asked if her son (whom she also brought to the clinic) had been vaccinated yet. He had not. We offered to give him the catch-up shots as well. She literally clutched her son in a vice grip and pulled him away from us, and said she couldn’t vaccinate him because ‘he’s my only son.’ She thought he was likely to get autism from shots because he was a boy (Ignoring the fact that one generally doesn’t suddenly develop autism at 9 years old). Even though we could show her that the ‘whistleblower’ article she was quoting was full of holes and misleading data, she thought it was better odds to leave him at risk of a disease that currently had his sister in critical condition and was circulating in their community than to get vaccinated and have an imaginary risk of autism.
Oh, and did I mention that the ‘article’ the woman was quoting the autism risk only applied to black boys? Her son wasn’t black.
I feel so bad for those kids. I still think about them.”
Nothing Would Make A Dent
“I saw a new patient at my practice for a physical. He was about 10 years old. I reviewed his vaccine record and saw that the only vaccines he had gotten were the two varicella (chicken pox) vaccines.
I said to his mom, ‘So, I see he had the chicken pox vaccines.’
She said, ‘Oh, yes… Does that mean he won’t ever get chicken pox?’
I explained briefly that the varicella vaccine is slightly less effective than other vaccines, but that chances are very good that he won’t get chicken pox, especially with herd immunity now that the vaccine is widespread.
She said, ‘Oh, that’s good. I had chicken pox and it was just awful.’
‘Okay,’ I said, ‘Do you want to talk about getting him caught up on any other vaccines?’
‘Oh, no. I don’t believe in vaccines. They’re poison.’
The conversation was a dead end at that point. Nothing else I said made a dent in her viewpoint.”
“Doctors Can Be Morons Too”
“I once saw a medical doctor who was against vaccines. I overheard him debating with the triage nurse at the clinic I worked at about why his kids didn’t need vaccines. That he monitored their nutrition really closely and that was all they needed.
She basically told him over and over how wrong he was but had to give him the exemption form anyway. He even tried to complain to the clinic supervisor about the nurse who also told him he’s wrong. That nurse just happened to be an expert in vaccines, had spent her youth working abroad helping to vaccinate kids in impoverished countries. She has seen countless kids impacted by preventable diseases because they didn’t have access to vaccines. She’s forgotten more about vaccines than any doctor I’ve met knows.
It was at that moment that I realized doctors can be morons too.”
There Was No Second Date
“The only real nutter I’ve ever met was a beautiful (though crazy and ultra religious) girl back when I had just finished medical school.
We went out once, then out of the blue she started telling me how I was brainwashed by all of those years in the medical field and the big pharma companies. No matter how much I tried to explain where she could find real data about vaccines and trustworthy information, she just kept going with her crazy speech.
At the end of the date, I just told her to keep her future children away from my future children. Needless to say, there was no second date.”
“This Was All Preventable”
“My step mom is a pediatrician at a major hospital here in Italy; she told me the worst thing she saw was a mom wailing and screaming after her 12-year-old son died of meningitis (the mother didn’t let the son get the meningitis vaccine).
My step mom told me as soon as she walked in the room after getting called for an emergency, all the son’s limbs had gone necrotic and he was bleeding from practically every hole in his body including his eyes since his blood couldn’t congeal anymore and was like oil leaking all over. This was all preventable.”
I Think Vaccines Are The Least Of Their Troubles
“I had a patient come to the hospital for a possible heart attack. I asked if they had gotten a flu shot or the pneumonia vaccine. They went into a long rant about how vaccines are poison and they don’t take any medication because they swim in the ocean and it purifies all the toxins that they acquire. Then they started having chest pain so I gave them a nitroglycerin pill… They spat it out because they hated it. Well… You don’t take your meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, you will have a heart attack. So not just against getting shots, but fully anti-medicine and science.
The pneumonia vaccine is a thing. Technically, it’s called the Pneumococcal vaccine which protects from the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. Their use can prevent some cases of pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. The hospital asks everyone over 65 if they have had one. Also, this person did leave the hospital the next morning. And yes, nitroglycerin is an explosive, but smaller and less concentrated is a vasodilator that helps with chest pain related to heart blockages.”
Act Like A Parent
“I was in medical school when I was seeing a new patient to establish care. The patient was a 9-year-old girl.
We got into the room and she was on the table wearing glasses. Okay that’s cool, I had glasses at a young age also. Then I noticed she was cross-eyed. I talked to the mother to get better history. It turns out she was born with the condition. Now, there is a relatively easy way to fix this involving surgery and then wearing an eye patch. For most people, this fixes the issue and their vision is unaffected.
The mother was against the surgery, but someone finally convinced her that it would help, so she got it done. The patient was sent home and mother was given specific instructions…keep the eye patch on constantly. Well, guess what? Eye patch isn’t exactly comfortable and kid gets fussy all the time and doesn’t want to keep it on. So mom decides not to make her wear it. Strabismus returns.
By the time I saw her, the patient’s vision was terrible, and she was almost legally blind. I informed the mother that they could get the surgery again, it would help prevent her vision from worsening and help with being cross-eyed but her mother said the surgery was cosmetic, and the eye patch was too bothersome so she doesn’t want to do it.
This girl is on track to become legally blind in the next couple of years. She will remain cross-eyed for the rest of her life. All because her mother couldn’t be a parent and force her to wear an eye patch for a couple of months. Turns out there is other evidence of bad parenting. Kid brushes her teeth maybe once a week because mother doesn’t make her brush her teeth if she doesn’t want to.
Long story short…if you are a parent, be a parent.”