Sat 31 Jan, 2015 11:41 pm
First let me say, I have been vaccinated. (Again and again.)
However, I understand that part of point to vaccinating people is so that the population as whole will develop "herd immunity", to prevent the disease from gaining a foothold. That herd immunity seems to be breaking down thanks to people's unwillingness to get their kids vaccinated.
I also understand that, on an individual level, some vaccines sometimes don't work 100% of the time. For example, someone can take a flu vaccine and still get the flu that year.
Should I worry about getting measles if people around me are infected?
I'm guessing you are okay - probably. You have greatly improved your odds. Still, it is extremely contagious.
Influenza is a condition caused by an RNA virus which originally derived in domestic animals, and continues to evolve in and spread from domestic animals. Therefore, it is entirely possible to get vaccinated for influenza, but still contract a type of influenza for which you were not immunized. This has happened in North America this winter--the vaccine being used is not effective with the strain of influenza which has shown up. In fact, that strain may have spread rapidly precisely because people were not immunized for it--rather like looking one inu way in traffic and being hit by a car coming from another direction.
Measles is also caused by an RNA virus--however, the source and vector of the virus is humans, and it is not transmitted and re-transmitted from one species to another, thereby rapidly evolving as is the case with influenza. The vaccination for measles is a multi-vaccine called MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and as with any medical procedure, you should consult a physician, preferably a family doctor who is familiar with you personally.
Should I worry about getting measles if people around me are infected?
Given the history you describe, it's my understanding that the probability of you contracting Measles, even if exposed, is extremely remote. If you are determined to worry about something affecting your health it's probably more fruitful to worry about drunk drivers and second hand smoke.
Back when I was a kid, many thousands got the measles (somewhere I read 100,000, over what period I didn't notice, don't trust me). I got them too, but I was six and don't remember if it was German measles (rubella) or regular measles (morbilli), which I take this present episode as being. I am guessing the regular one. Never had a measles vax, they didn't exist then..
I'm not worrying (famous last words). Actually my Boston cousin's husband died of the measles when he was in his forties, back in the nineteen fifties.
I did get a whooping cough shot (pertussis) last year as I didn't ever have that and I'm more afraid of it - as someone who used to smoke a lot - supposing I got it.
Anyway, Kolyo, you sound pretty protected. You had a measles shot three times?
Still - re once -
That last link was just a news site - I'm sure there are better articles to check out, haven't hunted for them.
I've not been vaccinated, it wasn't an option when I was a kid, I've had rubella, and my brother got measles, but I never caught it. I've had both my kids vaccinated though, and have no sympathy for those parents who don't have their kids vaccinated. Maybe when people get a wake up call about how dangerous measles can be they'll see sense.
If they read this letter
, they might not be so quick to ignore vaccinations.
Roald Dahl on Olivia, writing in 1988
"MEASLES: A dangerous illness.
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 twenty-four years ago 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 immunised 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 to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. 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 immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.
Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was James and the Giant Peach. That was when she was still alive. The second was The BFG, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children."
YOU should maybe worry Osso. I also had measles as a kid, as pretty much everyone did, then. I thought I must therefore be immune.
I got it again from kids I was working with in '79.
It's bloody vicious! And now I can't wear contact lenses because it has left the insides of my eyelids permanently all lumpy.