I need your help. "herd immunity," or as I prefer, "community immunity" is not just a vague idea for my family: It is literally what keeps my kids from getting sick.
We have four sons: Harrison (13), twins Holden and Langford (9), and Davis (8). Harrison, Holden, and Davis have a genetic, inherited immunodeficiency called x-linked agammaglobulinemia. XLA is in the family of "primary immunodeficiencies" (PIDs). My boys with XLA are missing half their immune system and are at risk of catching infections. We need a vaccinated community around us to keep them well. Please consider us as you make decisions and annual doctor visits this summer.
Harrison was diagnosed with XLA as a toddler because he'd had several strange infections. We learned that I am a carrier and tried to have kids without this condition: we went through in-vitro fertilization with pre-implantation diagnosis to conceive our twins, were implanted with what everyone thought were female embryos and ended up with our amazing boys, including one more with XLA. When I got pregnant with Davis, I was surprised and scared and thought I could not handle another child with XLA. It turns out we could, and we are crazy lucky to have them all.
We do everything in our power to keep them healthy. My boys get monthly infusions of a medicine called intravenous immunoglobulin ("IVIG") and take daily antibiotics. We do an "infusion day" for all three boys at home. Until a cure is found, my sons will need this medicine.
Still, we are at risk. My sons don't have the amazing immune system memory function that many take for granted. We rebuild their immune systems as best we can every single month. They are always more likely to catch an unexpected viral or bacterial infection, and of that infection becoming very serious, very fast.
Before we had our boys, we went through years of fertility treatments, and suffered a miscarriage and stillbirth. Now, finally, we have our family. Much as I'd like to think I can do everything for my boys, I know I can't. I rely on our neighbors to vaccinate themselves and their children and this is where we — and many others in our OP-RF community with PIDs — need your help.
When I think of people who choose not to vaccinate, I also imagine how they are likely kind people, who would pull over if we were stranded, who'd catch my kid if he were falling from a tree, or buckle my kid first if they didn't have enough seatbelts. But please know that vaccinating your kids is even more immediately helpful to my kids, and other vulnerable members of our community. If you are a parent who is vaccine-hesitant or who has chosen not to vaccinate, my plea to you is this: My kids are my heart and soul, just as yours are to you, and I need your help to keep them healthy and safe. I would do the same for you.
Sonia Bychkov Green is a mom and law professor, living in River Forest.