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Posts tagged ‘Measles’

Why Vaccination Is One of the Best Choices You Can Make As a Parent

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Measles Redux, The Unnecessary Epidemic

By Edwin J. Asturias, MD

This editorial appeared in The Denver Post Feb. 5.

Though dormant for years, measles reemerged this year with a vengeance. The first cases erupted in Disneyland before spreading outward, involving 14 states and counting. Now there are 102 confirmed cases, making it the largest measles outbreak since 1990.

This growing epidemic is fueling fierce debate over how to balance public health risks against the rights of increasing numbers of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. Read more

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The Risk of the Intentional Unvaccinated

I was able to celebrate a friend’s coming baby at a shower this past weekend. The parents knew they are having a girl in May, so how were the gifts? Cute…cuter…and cutest! So much pink and brown! Such cute outfits! Such tiny shoes and pretty accessories!

As the mom-to-be opened gifts the conversation turned towards child rearing. The group of women ranged in age from late 20s to grandmothers (about to be great grandmothers), it became clear that, there was a wide-range of gifts but also a wide range of opinions on vaccines.

The younger crowd gave diaper wipe warmers, a stylish breastfeeding Boppy that matched the nursery decor, designer diaper bags that could go from the playground during the day to The MET at night! These were the women who questioned the need for vaccines

What diseases? Haven’t we eradicated them all?

Childhood diseases are a thing of the past, they’ve moved on to more contemporary diseases like AIDS and breast cancer.

The older crowd gave gifts such a delicate hand-knitted dresses, beautifully hand-stitched quilts (no machine stitching for these diehards), and a homemade diaper wipe holder made from what appeared to be a place mat. Born before the routine childhood series was available, these women have seen the ravages polio and diphtheria. They recall classmates paralyzed by polio, months spent in iron lungs, metal leg braces, and babies who coughed themselves to death before their third birthday. When they vaccinated their children, it was a modern medical wonder. It is their hope that their grandchildren would choose to vaccinate, too.

But sometimes children are not getting the vaccines they need to protect them from these nasty diseases. Some parents would rather “risk” the disease. That makes me uneasy for their child and angry because of the risk to all other children. Their “risk” isn’t limited to just their child or even to just their family. We ALL take that risk and here’s why.

When community vaccination levels fall below the recommended effective coverage levels of 90% , it leaves an opening for disease. Think we’ve eradicated disease? Think again. Check out this new report from the Journal of Pediatrics that profiles the case of a 7-year-old whose parents intentionally didn’t vaccinate him. The boy went to Europe and contracted measles, and when he returned to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed 839 people.

Measles are highly contagious spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. Eleven unvaccinated children contracted the disease and an infant too young to be vaccinated was hospitalized. Public Health officials quarantined another 48 infants in order to prevent further spread and infection.

No virus is more contagious than measles. “If a measles-infected person walks into a room with 10 uninfected people,” said Dr. David Sugerman of the CDC in a recent NPR interview, “nine of them will get infected.” Moreover, anyone who goes into that room within the next two hours after the infected person has left is likely to get measles, too
Measles outbreaks like this one due to “intentionally unvaccinated” children are widespread.

From January through July 2008, CDC received reports of 131 measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia—the highest year-to-date number since 1996. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown. Many of these individuals were children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated. Fifteen of the patients, including four infants, were hospitalized.

During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver two different measles virus strains were brought from travelers from Asia and the city continues to try to contain a measles outbreak. Those infected were two Canadians and an American. As a result, 16 people in a large family who are unvaccinated have contracted the disease.

What blows my mind is that this family didn’t decline vaccines based upon allergies, medical reasons or religious belief but because a close family friend who was anti-vaccines convinced them not to get vaccinated!? Here was a pocket of vulnerability which gave the disease an opportunity to spread.

While it appears that measles is a forgotten disease by the young mothers I met this weekend, it infects about 23,000,000 people and kills about 500,000 people each year around the world. Measles can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely. About 1 out of 10 children with measles also get an ear infection, and up to 1 out of 20 get pneumonia. About 1 out of 1,000 get encephalitis, and 1 or 2 out of 1,000 die.

There will always be some children and adults who can never be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated in time. Unvaccinated children also pose a threat to children with legitimate medical exemptions who cannot be immunized because of health complications. These are often our most fragile children including those battling leukemia, cancer or HIV. Even children with allergies to certain vaccine ingredients, like eggs, have to go unprotected.

Guest Mom Laura: Never Losing a Child to a Preventable Disease

A few times a month Colorado Mom2Mom will feature a guest post from another Colorado parent who shares the same fears as you, has personal stories to tell and chooses to vaccinate their children. I hope that these different perspectives will help you feel confident in your choice to vaccinate your child. If you are a Colorado parent who wants to write a post email us!

Welcome our very first Guest Mom – Laura!

LaLaGirl Laura's Family

Laura, also known as LaLaGirl, is the mother of a crazy teenager and two sets of elementary school-age twins. She’s happily married, loves living in Colorado, and writes almost daily about married life, raising multiples, and parenting a child with autism. Although she’s a stay-at-home mom, she feels that the title is a bit misleading, as she seems to spend most of her time in the car. When she isn’t driving children to various play dates and activities, Laura spends a great deal of time doing laundry, stepping on wayward Legos, and sharing stories about her life at lalagirl.org.

The obituary was short – just one small paragraph, summing up the tragic, yet all-too-common death of an innocent child.

Carl Nelson, 2 ½-year-old son of  Mr. and Mrs. Nels Nelson of Ridgefield, passed away Tuesday night from the effects of that dread disease, diphtheria.

The year was 1918, and Carl Nelson was my grandfather’s baby brother. I never knew much about him until I happened to stumble upon my grandfather’s baby book. I found one handwritten sheet of paper, listing baby Carl’s vital statistics and the details of his tragic death.

Even more heartbreaking was the poem my great grandmother wrote in his memory. It begins,

We watched our darling boy, through the nights, until the early dawn. He closed his eyes, but to wake in a brighter morn.

I was overwhelmed by the fresh pain I felt, reading the words written in her flowery, font-like cursive nearly a century ago. These aren’t the words of some long-gone matriarch, present only in faded black and white photographs. These are the words of a grieving mother, someone my own age, who lost her precious child.

Thankfully, few of us will ever have to imagine the pain of losing a child to a disease like diphtheria. Thanks to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccination, diphtheria has been virtually eradicated from our country.

Imagine a century ago, if families could somehow catch a glimpse of the future and know that through the miracles of modern science, vaccinations would one day wipe out many childhood diseases. It’s akin to us imagining our future generations living in a world free from cancer, STDs and obesity.

Realizing how far we’ve come in less than a century makes it that much harder for me to understand the new trend of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. It’s hard to even get my head around the idea that diseases such as small pox, polio, measles, and whooping cough are on the rise in our country – after they’d been eliminated for decades!

Now the question seems to be, how do we undo all the fear and misinformation and reassure a nation of freaked out parents? I’m not sure what the answer is. The results of the original study that showed a link between autism and the MMR shot have already been officially retracted. But how far will that go with uneasy parents?

As the mom of an autistic child, I faced these same fears myself. I’ll admit that I thought long and hard before giving my younger children the MMR vaccine, but after reading up on every bit of information I could get my hands on, I decided it was in my children’s best interests to get vaccinated.

Really, I think that’s all any of us parents can do – educate ourselves as best we can and be thankful we live in an age where we don’t have to worry about losing our children to preventable diseases the way our ancestors did.

{PS Also check out Laura’s great vlog on “Is Autism Caused by Vaccinations?”}