If you haven’t heard about the threat of measles resurfacing, then you haven’t been watching the news or listening to the radio. This year alone, more than 900 cases have been reported, and even anti-vaxxers are taking notice. In 1963, nearly every child in the United States contracted measles before they turned 15, although there’s believed to be even more cases that went unreported. The CDC estimated that 4 million people actually caught the measles every year, resulting in death, hospitalization, encephalitis and brain swelling.
Today, lawmakers, doctors and scientists work diligently to spread the word about the importance of vaccinations. In 1993, the Vaccines for Children Program was created to allow those unable to afford vaccines to get them for free. Regarding measles, the year 2000 was declared “measles free” with the disease no longer being believed to be transmitted amongst Americans. If measles was eliminated from the American population, why is there now a resurgence of it? Measles is among the most contagious diseases in the world and can still be found in some places around the globe. When unvaccinated people travel, their exposure brings the disease back to the U.S. upon their return.
An article on CNBC.com quotes Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as saying, “It’s hard to un-scare people. It’s easy to scare them, but it’s much harder to un-scare them.” Even though there are almost 20 studies from seven countries that have proven children who receive vaccines are at no greater risk of getting autism from vaccinations, the fear still lives in the news, anti-vaccination groups and social media.
As mentioned earlier, serious diseases still exist worldwide, but thanks to vaccines, most parents today have never seen the devastating effects of these diseases. Diseases like polio, measles and whooping cough that have been known in the past to completely overcome communities still exist, and when vaccination rates are low, it’s probable an outbreak can occur.
In the U.S., vaccines are tested repeatedly and thoroughly before being given to children. As new information becomes available about any vaccine, updates are made to ensure safety as well as effectiveness. Side effects are quite rare from vaccinations and are most definitely less of a risk than contracting one of the diseases if one decides NOT to vaccinate. Most all children can be vaccinated safely with the exception of children with allergies to something in a vaccine or children with a weakened immune system due to illness.
If you are looking for more reasons to vaccinate or have questions about any vaccinations recommended for your child, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor at their next visit. The Association of Childcare Physicians can be reached by calling (618) 235-2311 or by visiting our website. Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw want your children to live healthy, quality lives, receiving the best medical care possible.