Don’t Wait! Vaccinate! Measles outbreak continues to grow!!
Have you heard the news? There has been several documented cases of measles and there will probably be more. How can this be? Families traveling to one of the most exciting places around, Disney Land were exposed to a case of measles! If children were not protected by vaccination or were too young to receive it they were put at risk. Though we don’t see measles very much, the disease is still around. Most of the time an outbreak can be traced to a case being “imported” in from another country. Before the vaccine in this country, EVERYONE got the measles, mumps and rubella. There were approximately 3 to 4 million cases diagnosed a year. During an outbreak of measles in this country in 1989, 1 out of every 500 people diagnosed died. It is an awful, preventable disease.
None of us like to see our children hurt, and vaccines are not fun for our child. Last night I worked at an immunization clinic in the area and even though I am a firm believer in vaccinating, as I gave those vaccines, the tears tugged at my heart-strings. But, I knew that those children were being protected from a disease much worse than the few moments of discomfort resulting in the tears. So with a sticker and a small stuffed dog for each child, there were smiles after the tears and those children left protected.
Here are the most common questions parents have regarding the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine.
1. What about autism?
- There is NO scientific link between the MMR and autism.
- The first study that reported a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism was done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital in the United Kingdom in 1998. Dr. Wakefield attempted to link the MMR with bowel problems such as Crohn’s Disease and Autism. The study was based on 12 children. There was no control group; the study did not identify the time period during which the cases were identified, in four of the 12 cases behavioral problems appeared before the MMR. Ten out of 12 of Dr. Wakefield’s fellow researchers have withdrawn their support of this study. The study has been has been withdrawn.
- There are a large number of medical and scientific studies that show no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. These studies have included thousands of children in many countries and were completed by many different scientists. All of the studies were well controlled and published in well-respected journals.
- The MMR vaccine has NEVER contained thimerosal, a preservative that many tried to link to autism.
2. Aren’t measles, mumps and rubella harmless if my child gets the diseases?
- Measles is a highly contagious disease spread by water droplet. It causes a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
- Measles can cause encephalitis which can lead to seizures, deafness or brain damage in 1 to 2 of every 2,000 cases.
- In the 1989 -1990 outbreak in the U.S., there were 55,000 cases, 11.000 hospitalizations, and 123 deaths. Most of these cases were in preschool children who were not vaccinated.
- Mumps cause fever, headache and swelling of glands on the sides of the jaw.
- 4 to 6 people out of 100 who are ill with mumps will develop meningitis
- 4 out of every 10 adult men who get the mumps may develop sterility due to inflammation of the testicles.
- Mumps may cause hearing loss.
- Rubella is a mild illness in children and young adults which results in rash and fever for about 3 days.
- Rubella will cause birth defects if contracted by a pregnant mom, there is at least an 80% chance of damage to an unborn child.
3. What is the danger of the MMR vaccine?
- The MMR vaccine is safe and most children have no reactions.
- About 5 to 15% of children will develop a fever 5 to 12 days later.
- About 5% will develop a rash 1 to 2 weeks after the vaccine.
- Central nervous system reactions such as encephalitis have been reported in less than one case per 1 million doses of the vaccine. This is many times lower than the occurrence of serious central nervous system problems after the measles which is 1 in 800 cases.
4. When should my child receive the MMR?
- Your child should receive 2 doses of the MMR. The first dose is recommended on or after the first birthday. The 2nd dose is before entering school between age 4 and 6.
- If your child is behind schedule, they may receive one dose of the MMR and a 2nd dose 4 weeks later.
- 95% of those vaccinated are immune after the first dose, 99.7% are immune after the 2nd dose.
5. What if my child has been exposed and has not been vaccinated?
- The MMR may be effective if given in the first 3 days after exposure to measles. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs.
I know there is so much information in so many different places. It is difficult to decide what is credible and what is not. The fact is, your child is safer and healthier when he or she is fully vaccinated. Don’t take the risk. We are a society that has not seen the devastating results of these preventable diseases because of vaccines. If your child is not fully vaccinated, make that appointment today!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.