When Tiffany Yonts from California was 14 years old, she received the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine as part of a routine course of vaccinations. But Tiffany would quickly become one in a million, as she became extremely ill with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
The National Health Service in the United Kingdom explains that GBS is a very rare and serious condition that causes damage to a person's nervous system. GBS is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system and can be triggered as a result of vaccination. However, this is extremely rare, with a 2009 study finding that for every million people who had been given a vaccination, there were less than two extra cases of GBS.
But Tiffany's bad luck hasn't changed her opinions on vaccination. Fourteen years following the start of her health problems, Tiffany took to Twitter to destroy some anti-vaxxers. She starts by describing her experience.
“I was misdiagnosed for two years (with multiple different things; my diagnosis changed constantly), so not even knowing what I was dealing with made it nearly impossible to come to terms with what had happened to me,” Tiffany told Bored Panda.
“I was in a powerful state of denial. Whenever I had an ounce of energy, I would use it to pretend that my life was still normal. I lost swimming, which was both my deepest passion and my job. I had only recently started working as a swim coach for young kids and I loved it with all of my heart. So, it definitely took me some time to accept that I’d basically lost my identity while also being completely in the dark when it came to what was actually happening with my body.”
Tiffany says the pain will likely continue her entire life.
Despite everything she has faced, Tiffany still supports vaccination, precisely because what happened to her is so rare.
According to the World Health Organization, the measles vaccine is believed to have saved 17.1 million lives since 2000. But progress in defeating the disease has slowed in recent years, with several outbreaks in the United States caused by unvaccinated children.
This week, health officials in Clark County, Washington, were forced to declare a public health emergency for a measles outbreak in an area with a high rate of unvaccinated children. As of Tuesday, January 22, officials tallied 23 confirmed cases in the county — that number has doubled since last week.
Nearly eight percent of children in Clark County were exempt from standard vaccination for the 2017-2018 school year, with only one percent excused for medical reasons. When the rest of the population is factored in, the county is below the 92-percent to 94-percent rate of immunization recommended to keep highly contagious diseases from spreading.