Thursday, August 21, 2008

If You're Planning to Leave the House, Vaccinate!

From Yahoo Health via AP: Jump in US Measles Cases Linked to Vaccine Fears

"ATLANTA - Measles cases in the U.S. are at the highest level in more than a decade, with nearly half of those involving children whose parents rejected vaccination, health officials reported Thursday.

Worried doctors are troubled by the trend fueled by unfounded fears that vaccines may cause autism. The number of cases is still small, just 131, but that's only for the first seven months of the year. There were only 42 cases for all of last year. ... {Ed note: That's more than three times the number of cases in only seven months]

"In Washington state, an outbreak was traced to a church conference, including 16 school-aged children who were not vaccinated. Eleven of those kids were home schooled and not subject to vaccination rules in public schools. It's unclear why the parents rejected the vaccine.

The Illinois outbreak — triggered by a teenager who had traveled to Italy — included 25 home-schooled children, according to the CDC report.

The nation once routinely saw hundreds of thousands of measles cases each year, and hundreds of deaths. But immunization campaigns were credited with dramatically reducing the numbers. The last time health officials saw this many cases was 1997, when 138 were reported."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: vaccinate your children! Mine have all their shots, not because they attended school but because we value their lives. These diseases kill children--the vaccinations keep children alive. They do not cause autism and they really work. Measles is no longer endemic to the US because we Gen-Xers were thoroughly vaccinated.

But clearly measles has not disappeared from the face of the planet. Foreigners immigrate or just come for vacation from places where measles (or mumps or diphtheria or polio or TB) is still a threat. US tourists visit these areas and return home unknowingly infected. Then they handle produce at your local grocery store and you or your child is the next one to pick up that piece of fruit. Or a family comes home from a mission trip and the 6yo comes to church with what they think is a little cold. Either one of these innocent scenarios could lead to serious illness or death for your child if you allow rumor and well-meaning ignorance to keep them unprotected. Get the info. After all, what's a little jab between friends, eh?


Linda said...

Yes, do vaccinate. We have a universal vaccination programme for Mumps, Measles and Rubella in the UK, free to all on the National Health Service. But uptake has declined sharply because of a report, now discredited, that linked the vaccine to autism.

My daughter had the vaccine in full. She still got measles, quite probably at a very large gathering (700+) of children in London. One minute we were on holiday, the next she was raced off to hospital by ambulance, siren screaming, with suspected meningitis. It turned out to be 'just' measles. 'Just' measles meant that she was in hospital on a drip for a week, with a soaring temperature and a host of other symptoms that you would not want your child to have just to get a childhood illness out of the way 'naturally'. Luckily there was no lasting damage. But if she got it that badly having had the vaccine, goodness knows what it would have been like without. And we would all rather that she just didn't have to go through that illness in the first place.

Beccy said...

Coming from one of those countries where TB, measles etc kill several kids a day, I heartily endorse this. And quite a few "non-lethal" diseases like whooping cough are distinctly nasty. 3 months of sick kid, who doesn't develop as normal during that time. Also, many shots are actually to protect those that can't have vaccinations, like unborn babies (the rubella vaccination) and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.