Meredith’s mother was suspicious about vaccines and would never let her have them as a child. For a while it didn’t seem to matter, but eventually Meredith (not her real name) starting coming down with some frightening illnesses.
It started when I accidentally stood on a nail. Some time afterwards my jaw and shoulder started to seize up and paramedics rushed me to the closest hospital in an ambulance.
It was a teaching hospital in Brisbane and I remember vividly that the doctor left the room saying quietly, “Oh my God!”
He brought in all the medical students to take a look at me. It was tetanus – also known as lockjaw. They hadn’t had a patient diagnosed with tetanus in over 30 years.
I was determined and said: “I’m not going to die at 36 because of tetanus.”
Despite the pain, I felt angry towards my mother, because she deliberately didn’t get me vaccinated. The doctors took white blood cells from someone who had already had tetanus – cells that had proved that they were “seasoned fighters” – and injected them into me to help my white blood cells recognise the illness and fight it.
With this treatment, eventually I got better. But I was still angry, because this is something that could’ve been completely prevented.