In the four and three weeks since he was born, Walter Blum had been the happy and healthy baby that his parents, Sara and Jason, had wanted.
Then, one day before turning five, Walter's temperature climbed to 102.5 ° F.
Reading her thermometer was "terrifying," Sara told CNN.
"You see it and you say to yourself" OK, it's really high. "
Soon, the baby's skin began to be inflamed and rash – the tell-tale sign of measles in Walter.
"He was everywhere on his face. All around his neck. It was really red and spotted, says Sara.
Sara Blum (left) says her California community did not show due diligence and was not vaccinated at a level of herd immunity, which prompted her son to infants, Walter (right), to contract measles
"It was very alarming.
Measles is a viral infection that parents like Sara and Jason are not supposed to worry about in the modern world.
The Blums are apparently pro-vaccines and intend to get Walter all his vaccines – when he will be old enough to receive it.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that babies do not receive their first dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at four to six years of age .
Born in California in late 2018, Walter came into the world amid the measles epidemic and contracted the virus seven months before he could claim his first vaccine.
When enough people – 90 to 95% of the population, to be exact – are vaccinated against a disease, the immunity of the herd protects people like Walter who are too young or whose immune system is too damaged to support a disease. gunshot.
But the immunity of the flock failed, Walter.
"It's really sad, but our community has kind of let us down," Sara said.
Of the 704 people with measles this year, 93 (including Walter) are under 12 months of age, which means they are too young to be vaccinated.
In total, 503 people who have contracted the measles virus are not vaccinated, but the vast majority of them have chosen to pass their vaccine (or, more likely, their parents have chosen to do so).
"It's terrifying," Sara said as she watched her son's temperature rise to 102.5F as the measles rash covered her skin.
Vaccination clashes with the first amendment in the United States, as the 50 states must grant waivers if the vaccination goes against their religious beliefs.
But in 17 states, residents can simply claim a "philosophical exemption."
California, where the Blums live, benefited from such an exemption until 2015, when the state legislature abolished the exemption following a massive measles epidemic whose epicenter was Disneyland.
Nevertheless, several counties in California have a cumulative total of 38 cases of measles, of which 28 according to the state's health department are linked to local outbreaks.
In New York, Washington, and Oregon, this year's epidemics have mostly spread to very close religious groups.
At a press conference Monday, the CDC said that measles was mainly prevalent among travelers coming or returning from Ukraine, the Philippines and Israel – all of them countries that knew their own epidemic – in the United States.
It is unclear what communities are known to have measles in California, although officials recognize that vaccination rates are improving to prevent measles rates from climbing higher than they have.
According to the 2017-2018 Vaccination Assessment of the State Department of Health, more than 95% of kindergarten children were fully aware of their vaccines.
Nevertheless, vaccinations have not been widespread enough to protect some infants, such as Walter Blum.
Walter has been recovering since he got sick in March, but the incident has left his family upset by the state of vaccination in his own community.