Measles Vaccinations: Still Important for Today’s Children
Once upon a time, or late 2014, Disneyland in California was the source of a rare measles outbreak. A guest spending time in the amusement park spread the virus by simply coughing. Infected droplets on benches, handrails and even in the air caused nearly 150 guests to become ill over the next few months.
“If a room of susceptible individuals were exposed to measles, about 90 percent of those people would become infected,” said Rick Kooima, MD, Avera Medical Group pediatrician.
Measles victims suffer symptoms such as a high fever, runny nose, coughing and a red, bumpy rash that starts around the hairline and eventually travels downward. Fevers can run as high as 105 degrees. Encephalitis, or inflammation in the brain, can inflict terrible headaches and confusion.
In severe cases, measles could result in death. For every 1,000 children who get the measles, about one or two will die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Susceptible individuals include those who are unvaccinated (typically young children) or those with compromised immune systems (such as cancer patients). There are also those rare people whose body doesn’t respond to the vaccination, offering them no protection.
A Grim History
Since the 1960s, protection against this scary disease has come in the form of the measles vaccination. The current vaccine, called MMR, covers the measles, mumps and rubella. It involves two shots given at different times during childhood — one when the child is between 12 and 15 months and the other given between 4 and 6 years of age.
However, the health-saving practice of vaccinations has been met with doubt from parents due to articles claiming that vaccinations lead to autism. It started with one particular article about a study that linked the two without true scientific evidence. That article was subsequently retracted.
“It simply isn’t proven that vaccinations lead to autism,” said Kooima.
Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, opinions, facts and half-informed articles run wild.
Do Your Own Research
Kristine Hamilton and her husband did their own research. However, they concurred they needed a more professional opinion to address their concerns before their son, Theo, received the MMR vaccination.
Kooima put their minds at ease, assuring them that these were merely theories — theories that couldn’t hold a candle to the evidence proving the importance of vaccinations.
“In pediatric care, vaccinations are the most studied products toward children,” said Kooima. “Time and time again, they’re proven safe and effective against preventable diseases.”
Hamilton respects all parents’ right to do what they want to do. “I encourage everyone to do their research about both sides of vaccinations, and make a decision that’s best for your children,” said Hamilton. “But as an educator, I know measles outbreaks have occurred throughout history. As a mom, I don’t want my child to contract any major, life-threatening disease.”
“We came to the conclusion that the benefits of vaccinations outweighed unproven risks,” said Hamilton.
Your primary care provider wants the best for you and your family. If you have any concerns about vaccinations, feel free to contact your care team or ask at your child’s next appointment.