My daughter Savannah is one of the children who can’t receive the MMR vaccine. I was gung-ho on getting her fully vaccinated until a round of hospitalizations and a blood transfusion derailed my plans and I was emphatically told by her team of doctors: “Don’t!”
Today, she has a medical file the size of a Manhattan phonebook, yet I still have to confirm her medical status with the New York Board of Education annually. Inundated with doctors’ appointments and paperwork as is, it’s another letter and form I can do without. More than once I’ve snipped in frustration at the school nurse: “My case is legit. I want to vaccinate my kid!”
When I hear tales of parents at her school not vaccinating their children citing “parental rights” and “religious purposes,” my blood boils. Part of me thinks they have too much time on their hands. The other wants to scream: “Do you not know that polio still exists in pockets of the world? Or, that measles can cause swelling of the brain?”
One mother I know who played the religious card hasn’t stepped foot in a church or synagogue in years. Later her child was diagnosed with autism; however, she still holds firm in her anti-vaccine position. People can justify anything, I realize.
Several years back I represented Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota. Try as the hospital might, they couldn’t budge the local Somali population who had been propagandized by Dr. Wakefield. Sure enough, one of Somali families returned to their home country, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates worldwide, and upon their return their was an outbreak at the local daycare.
While it’s doubtful, that I, a lone mom blogger, can have any impact, to those parents who refuse to vaccinate, please understand this:
Measles is highly contagious. The virus can remain active and contagious on a surface where the infected person sneezed or coughed for up to two hours. Measles can be spread from four days before a rash appears to four days afterward.
There is no treatment for measles. You basically have to wait it out.
Measles can lead to severe complications. About one in 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection; up to one in 20 gets pneumonia; about one out of 1,000 gets encephalitis.
Measles can be fatal. Every year an estimated 164,000 people around the world die from measles.
Measles could make a major comeback in the United States. In the mid-1990s, UK public health officials considered measles eradicated in the country. Yet, because of low vaccination rates, measles once again hit endemic status in 2008. Likewise, between 2008 and 2011, France saw more than 20,000 case of measles—after virtual elimination of the disease just a few years before.
Vaccinate your kids, folks.