An Ounce Of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure- Healthcare Cracks

Last year, my daughter, Hannah, 11 months old at the time suffered through a respiratory illness, commonly known as the common cold, but dangerous to those under the age of one. It was likely contracted from her two older school aged brothers. This illness, Respiratory syncytial virus, forced her into a general hospital, an hour and a half away from our rural home, for a week, and the week before Christmas, no less. We were discharged on December 23rd. The best Christmas gift, was her health mostly returned.

Luckily, she was old enough to not have sustained any lasting damage, but she did require oxygen for a period of time in hospital, along with high doses of inhalant, puffer-like drugs designed to open up the bronchioles. Another friend of ours with a younger son, though recovered from the RSV, hasn’t been as fortunate as us with respect to the longer term respiratory problems associated with RSV. 😦

What is more distressing, as I learned from one of the nurses at the hospital, is that there IS a vaccination available in Ontario, but it is expensive (about $1000). The government will cover it for premature children, but no other exceptions.

Just a thought, but maybe they should extend that to babies under the year of one with other school aged children in the home, at absolute minimum.

Even better, how can we conscionably deny our youngest and most vulnerable children protection from a common disease like this that can potentially harm their basic respiratory function for the rest of their lives? Most adults get the disease 1-2 times per year. It isn’t like it is hiding under the rug.

According to this webpage, there are about 140’000 babies born in Ontario, each year, so this vaccination effort would initially cost the Ontario government $140 million, if costs don’t drop with increased demand.

My daughter was in a private room (due to risk of infection) for a week at the hospital. Maybe I’m out to lunch, but I imagine that if her disease had been prevented by vaccination this would have saved, at minimum, the cost of the vaccine.

Younger children are often hospitalized for longer periods, and often require recurrent care afterwards. If they suffer from long term respiratory damage, the healthcare costs could be huge. And don’t we have an obligation to prevent this, since we can?

I really don’t think decisions like this for our youngest and newest children should rely on being able to prove that mass vaccination will lower costs enough that the balance sheet will look better. On this issue, however, it seems like the initial cost will pay itself off through reduced healthcare costs.

So the real question isn’t “should we do this?” but why aren’t we doing this?”