An Ottawa cancer survivor is condemning anti-vaxxers, after she contracted measles while travelling overseas.

Despite having the measles vaccine, her immune system had been weakened from past cancer operations.

Jayda Kelsall spent eight days in the hospital and said her life was put at risk by anti-vaxxers after she caught measles while on a trip in March. Now she’s urging everyone to get the immunization.

“I'm not somebody who did anything wrong,” she told CTV Ottawa. “I'm an immunocompromised cancer patient [and] this is why we should be vaccinating.”

Four years ago, Kelsall, 36, was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer.

“It's an incurable cancer, so we watch and we wait,” she said. “I have a few tumors at the moment that haven't grown in about a year and a half now.”

Recently, a charity had awarded her a trip to London, U.K., which included a tour of Harry Potter-related tourist sites. Kelsall and her husband Alex da Silva took the trip in mid-March.

“It was surreal to be treated so well,” she said, adding it had been an “amazing” trip of a lifetime. But a week after she’d returned, she started feeling tired, more so than her usual fatigue.

Kelsall was taken to hospital with a high fever and it was there that her husband noticed bumps on her forehead -- a typical measles symptom.



“She got all these red bumps on her forehead. I thought it was from sweating and the fever,” da Silva told CTV Ottawa. Kelsall was soon put into isolation once doctors realized she was carrying the infectious disease.

“Everyone was really baffled, including myself,” Kelsall said. “I laughed at first and thought that was absurd [because] I'm vaccinated.”

“It quickly turned to real concern of who I may have exposed,” she said.

Doctors explained her bouts with cancer had compromised her immune system and made her more susceptible to measles.

A spokesperson from Ottawa Public Health said Kelsall is actually the second recent case of measles in Ottawa but that the two aren’t connected. They believe Kelsall contracted the virus while she was overseas.

She’s grateful she was vaccinated “because I didn't get nearly as sick as I could have.”



The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine should be given to children soon after their first birthday, Public Health Agency of Canada urges. The Canadian Paediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization strongly recommend routine immunization.

The World Health Organization estimates that measles vaccination has saved an estimated 17.1 million lives since 2000.

The unfortunate skepticism over vaccines and their safety primarily started after a widely discredited study was published in the medical journal The Lancet in 1997. The misinformation has only gotten worse in the past several years, with more outbreaks of preventable and widely-eradicated contagious diseases across Canada and the United States occurring.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a public health emergency in the city, as medical facilities are now dealing nearly 300 cases. It’s the largest measles outbreak in New York City in almost 30 years.

De Blasio is now mandating vaccinations and threatening fines of up to $1,000 for those who are not vaccinated.

In February, Angus Reid Institute released a troubling statistic that found that at approximately 29 per cent of Canadians polled didn’t think the science on vaccinations against deadly diseases was “quite clear.”

But in that same poll however, researchers also found that the vast majority of Canadians -- 70 per cent -- say vaccines should be mandatory for school-aged children.