Family of unvaccinated boy with tetanus faced $1M in hospital bills: report

Family of unvaccinated boy with tetanus faced $1M in hospital bills: report
© Getty Images

The family of an unvaccinated boy who contracted life-threatening tetanus in 2017 faced almost $1 million in hospital bills, The Oregonian reported Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing federal health officials, reported that the the boy spent 57 days in the hospital, costing his family close to $1 million. The family also had to pay for air transportation to the hospital and the 17 days the boy spent in a rehabilitation facility.


The family still declined after the boy's stay in the hospital to have him vaccinated, according to the newspaper. The boy reportedly contracted tetanus on the family's farm after cutting his forehead and, within days, couldn't open his mouth.

Dr. Carl Eriksson, who works at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, told the newspaper that the boy's tetanus was severe from early on, adding that "it is absolutely life-threatening."

"It’s always hard to watch a child suffer," Eriksson also told the newspaper. "It is harder when we know they are suffering from something that’s preventable and obviously we do everything we can to try to avoid those situations."

Eriksson added that he and others at the hospital attempted to convince the boy's parents to have their child fully vaccinated, but they chose not to.

Erikksson also called the incident "eye-opening to a lot of people."

"It reminds us that vaccine-preventable illnesses are terrible diseases that are often life-threatening and we’re not used to seeing them so when a case like this does come along it’s definitely eye-opening to a lot of people," Eriksson told the newspaper.