I remember having measles when I was seven. My sister and brother came down with this childhood disease first. My mother kept them in a darkened room and made them wear sunglasses. Without my siblings, I was bored and lonely. But then the roles were reversed. I was in that room and they were outside playing.
But even after all these years, I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes. She knew that measles was serious. Complications could lead to permanent neurological damage, deafness, even death. We got through it. We also survived chicken pox and my sister, mumps. But when I became a mother, I was thrilled that my children could be vaccinated to protect then from contracting these dangerous diseases.
But guess what? Seventy-nine cases of measles have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the start of the year. Fifty cases have been reported in Washington state. New York has not escaped. Sixty-four cases have been confirmed in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn since late last year,
So a dangerous and debilitating childhood disease that we thought we had defeated is now back with a vengeance. So what is going on? There are many theories, but one blames a now discounted paper that vaccines can cause autism. Despite that idea being discounted, many parents still believe they are protecting their children by shunning vaccines.
Some physicians, it seems, are not making things any easier, supporting parents who refuse vaccines. One TV report found that many of these exemptions are suspect, children being given a pass because they have been diagnosed with ADD or have some other condition that would not result in an allergic reaction to a vaccine.
Th result is that children are being placed at risk. Those not vaccinated might be exposed and end up with measles. And children whose immune systems cannot tolerate a vaccine are exposed when children around them have not been vaccinated.
Yes, parents have the final say on decisions involving their children. But after decades of experience with these vaccines, they have been proven to be safe. Not to vaccinate a child is like spinning that roulette wheel. Who knows what might happen?
I had measles. It’s not something you want any child to experience – the rash, the scratchy throat, the fever, the sensitivity to light. If you are a parent making this decision, educate yourself. Talk to your pediatrician. Make the right call. Your child’s life depends on it.
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