These days we’re hearing a lot about something many of us dinosaur aged folks never gave a thought to for so many years. Measles!
That’s because until recently it had become a forgotten illness, something like smallpox. Measles was thought to be completely eliminated, thanks to the MMR vaccine given routinely to our babies. No thought beyond that.
Even though I was in Africa at the time of my child’s first vaccination, or maybe because we were there, measles vaccination was considered hugely important way back in 1970.
In 1980, 2.6 million people, mostly in Africa and Asia died of measles.. This led to global immunization programs, and by 2014 there was a huge reduction in worldwide deaths to 73,000 mostly children under five years of age.
Prior to that time parents and children had suffered through this intensely uncomfortable illness, every now and then with long lasting after effects. Sometimes death results, when measles turns into pneumonia or encephalitis. But even when it doesn’t, it is a risky painful and heartbreaking disease for children and adults.
Measles and misinformation
Measles spreads like wildfire once it starts. If someone with it sneezes or coughs, thousands of bacteria are released immediately. Those of us who were vaccinated in our early days are immune. I remember we all had to line up at school, pulling our sleeves aside to show our teachers the tell tale vaccination mark, which would be there for life. No one was allowed to go without being vaccinated.
Things are different now. Just as measles spreads so quickly, so does misinformation about the vaccination move on the internet with viral speed. It’s like the modern day equivalent of gossip, only much more powerful with the reach of social networking into all corners of the globe.
And just like gossip, the negative is always much easier to focus on than the positive. The chatter these days is the question of whether there is a connection between The measles vaccine MMR ( measles, mumps and rubella) and autism.
A flawed study still haunts us
I had never heard of autism until about 20 years ago. That’s probably because parents of children who had it were ashamed, either kept their affected kids at home or placed them in “special” schools and institutions.
Now attitudes and sensitivity has changed for people with autism. It’s preferred to think of them more as folks with a variation in human functioning.
Since then I’ve had opportunities to work closely with families and children with autism. It shows as a wide spectrum of differences in children.
Right now there is a resurgence of measles throughout North America, and in many other countries. Unfortunately it coincides with an upswing in the cases of autism being reported on a daily basis. Here are a couple of things to realize though:
- The original anti-vaccine study was deeply flawed, and has been thoroughly debunked, after 18 major research studies.
- There is absolutely no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.
- 12 subject children took part in the debunked Wakefield study. Since then,reputable, peer reviewed studies involving 600,000 and 100,000, (just to mention two of the 18 studies) have been completed and published.
- Research published in 2018 has determined there are certain risk factors for autism. A family history of autism, older parents and genetic factors seem to have the strongest links. In the latest research scientists are confidently predicting that between 74% and 93% of ASD is heritable.
- Social networking has elevated concerns about MMR to hysterical levels, causing parents of young children to completely disregard modern science, and instead focus on bad science.
Babies become teens - with minds of their own!
As they’re minors, more than likely they will have to wait for their vaccinations until they reach majority age.
Parents are supposed to know best when it comes to health decisions for their children. In these rapidly changing times though, children are adept at finding online information, have huge interest in science, and are often more willing to go with scientific proof than their parents.
Ever wondered what ingredients vaccines actually contain? Centers for Disease Control have this very excellent explanatory article.
You’ll notice there are no adjuvants in MMR vaccine.
Helping positive information spread
Smallpox has been completely eradicated through worldwide vaccine efforts. The US has been free of polio since 1979, but it still remains a threat. These diseases are extremely serious, and remain always there, sometimes in the background, and then sometimes right in your face, as is happening with measles at this time.
If you think more folks should know and think about this, please share in your social networks.
If you disagree with it, please remember, I’m only the messenger.
We all want our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to thrive and live healthy lives. If vaccinations will help, maybe it’s time to think about it.
Many thanks for reading and sharing. And I always love to hear your comments!
My sweet DJ does it again!