It's an awful sight: two-year-old, Jasper Allen, from Cambridgeshire, UK, is completely covered in red sores. The mother, Sarah, was refused an appointment at her local GP surgery because a receptionist did not think the condition was severe enough to warrant a visit. The pictures that Sarah has taken tell a completely different story.
The itching sores became severely infected and two days after being turned away by the doctor's surgery, Sarah decides to take Jasper to the emergency room at the hospital because her son's condition was worsening. At hospital, Sarah was told her son had the 'worst case of chickenpox ever seen'. It was so bad that the doctors considered contacting medical journals as they had never seen such an extreme case.
Chickenpox vaccination is not part of the National Health Service's routine childhood immunization schedule so it is not automatically available for all children. Sarah's kids had all had their immunizations but this was not something that ever crossed her mind to vaccinate them against privately. She could never have known the heavy price she would have to pay. Now Sarah is calling on the Government to make a vaccination against the disease - currently only available to certain children on medical grounds - free for all children on the National Health Service. "It shouldn't have affected a healthy two-year-old as badly as it did - imagine how it could have affected a child with a compromised immune system." Nearly every child Sarah had ever had in her care, while running a day-care center, has had chickenpox at some point, but never like this.
In England, the vaccine aims to protect those who are at risk for serious illness. That's why it is recommended for children with family members who are undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy which can affect immunity. Experts have long been warning about the risks, but the vaccine practices have only just started to be reviewed again. Even though chickenpox is relatively harmless, there's always the risk of a dramatic outbreak. For this reason, Sarah and her husband are still outraged that the danger was so underrated and that Jasper's medical condition was so wrongly assessed by the family practitioner – even if the family is now able to laugh once again.
Meanwhile, Sarah is pleased that her boy has fought so bravely: "It is worse when it's your own child because all you want is to take the pain away for them, it broke my heart." Sarah wants parents to trust their instincts when it comes to their children's health. Jasper is still regularly examined to rule out that his body has suffered permanent damage. Fortunately, it seems like he has made a full recovery.