When I learned that only slightly more than 80% of the children who attend the same school as two of my grandsons have been vaccinated, I was more than a little concerned! They live in Vancouver where there has been an outbreak of measles this month. Nine cases have been confirmed. The number grew from four to nine in less than 24 hours! At the centre of the outbreak is a family whose three children were not vaccinated due to concerns that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine might cause autism, a belief that has been scientifically debunked.
It may not be a popular opinion, but I don’t think that children should be allowed to attend public schools or any other kids’ programming if they haven’t been vaccinated (unless there’s a valid documented health reason why they shouldn’t be). Vaccines don’t just protect the people getting vaccinated; they protect everyone around them. The more people in a community who are vaccinated, the harder it is for a disease to spread. Having grown up with a dearly loved brother who was severely brain damaged by measles related encephalitis as an infant, I feel very strongly about this!
Some years ago, popular children’s author, Roald Dahl, who lost a daughter to measles encephalitis at the age of seven, had this to say:
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunized against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is ask your doctor to administer it.
I couldn’t agree more! In my opinion, people who refuse to have their children vaccinated are putting their lives at risk. Roald Dahl went on to say:
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunized? They are almost non-existent. In a district of around 300 000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunization! That is about a million to one chance. I would think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunization.
I can only assume that parents who have been blessed with perfectly healthy children and refuse to safeguard their health by immunizing them are completely oblivious to the risk they are running. As a parent who has lost a child and a grandparent who has watched a beloved grandchild fight for life; as a sister whose brother never had the opportunity to realize his potential and a daughter who saw her parents’ grief over that, that makes me livid!
Vaccines save lives! It’s as simple as that. There are no treatments or cures for diseases like measles, mumps and polio. The only proven way to protect your child is with vaccines. Parents, please just vaccinate your children!