With the recent events of a measles outbreak in Texas, it seemed like the perfect kick-off point for this series on vaccines and the diseases they prevent.
In case you have not heard, in Newark, Texas, 21 people have contracted the measles. The outbreak was traced back to a “mega church” where they recently reported that they are not “anti-vaccine” but they do admit to having concerns about vaccines, particularly in young children. The church seems to not advocate for vaccines and most of the members that contracted measles were unvaccinated. None of the children that contracted the measles were vaccinated, one being a 4-month-old baby.
This outbreak has sparked some discussion and debates between people who advocate for vaccines and people who are strongly opposed to vaccines. I’ve seen several of these online debates where those opposed say things such as “Measles is a very mild disease,” or “Before the vaccine, everyone had the measles,” or even, “ It doesn’t alarm me because it’s not serious.” This is absolutely not true.
Before the measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960’s, the number of people who suffered and even died from the measles is astonishing! According to the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov, which is one of my favorite websites) says, “Each year in the United States about 450-500 people died because of measles, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness.” Today, we don’t fear measles because there are only 60 cases of measles reported in the USA and most of them are contracted outside of the country and brought into the United States, as measles are more prevalent in impoverished countries. Many doctors have never even seen measles, including Dr. Solari!
Although the numbers tell so much (how many suffered and died before the vaccine compared to after the vaccine), the symptoms that measles cause tells all the more about how terrible this disease can be. Measles is an airborne virus, meaning it can be spread through a cough, sneeze, or even breathing! It is a highly contagious virus. The measles starts out appearing as a cold. About 3-5 days later a rash appears along with a fever, sometimes up to 104 degrees. Needless to say, at this point, the infected are miserable.
Does this still seem like a mild disease that is not severe enough to require a vaccine? Possibly. To be honest, this does seem like a cold; but the risks associated with measles do not stop there. Approximately 30% of measles cases report complications of one or more of the following:
- Diarrhea (which can lead to dehydration.)
- Ear Infections (which can lead to permanent hearing loss.)
- Pneumonia (the lead complication of measles that causes death.)
- Encephalitis (a swelling of the brain that can cause seizures, deafness, and even mental retardation.)
These make up the most common complications that stem from measles. This seems like more than enough reason to create a vaccine to prevent measles! The CDC states on their website that in the year 2008, there were 164,000 deaths from the measles and that measles is to blame as the leading cause of blindness in children in Africa!
Sadly, here in America, we see ourselves as “educated” and we don’t let the government tell us what we should do for our children. This way of thinking is what is causing the risk of measles in America to increase more and more each day. We must use our common sense enough to know who we should trust to guide us in the right direction. Why is it that for most anything important to us, we want to seek out an “expert opinion”, but for vaccines, we like to see ourselves as the “expert”, knowing that we have no medical education whatsoever. We will choose our own “studies” over the eight (at minimum) years of education along with the years of medical practice and experience of our pediatricians. Don’t be pulled into the media’s latest stories, but listen to your doctor! Talk to the older generations and find out how miserable the measles and other diseases are from their first-hand experience!
If you find yourself still fearing vaccines more than the symptoms and complications of the measles, call our office today to schedule an appointment with our providers who will take the time to sit down with you, answer any questions that you may have and show you research and studies while giving you statistics and facts to help you with these fears. Our ultimate goal is to keep your child healthy and safe! I also encourage you, whether you are a patient at Pediatric Care Unlimited or you are just visiting our website, the next time you take your child to visit your pediatrician, ask them if their children (or other family members) are vaccinated…and then ask why they made that decision for their family. Their answers may surprise you!
All statistics listed in this blog (along with much more) can be found at www.cdc.gov.