I know it is hard to take your baby for his or her vaccinations. I know it breaks your heart to see him hurt, to hold her still while someone injects her chubby little legs. Maybe you don’t really understand how vaccinations work and are fearful of what is coming out of the syringe into your child’s body. Maybe you are worried about the side effects. Maybe you have a fear of needles. I’m a parent. I get it. And, I am here to say, you need to get over it.
Vaccinations are one of the most incredible advances in medical history. With them, scientists have eradicated or all but eradicated many diseases. Without everyone’s participation, though, they can’t be completely effective. For years, people who thought they knew better, were able to hide behind herd immunity. Herd immunity happens when most people in a population are immune, thereby protecting the ones who aren’t. Essentially, if no one is getting sick, there is no one to get sick from.
The outbreak at Disneyland is evidence that herd immunity is less and less effective as more people choose not to have their children vaccinated and travel is more accessible. The world is small. We saw it with Ebola. A disease in Africa can make its way to the U.S. Unlike Ebola, which scares the daylights out of everyone, but is not very contagious (it is highly infectious) measles is extremely contagious. This means it is very easy to catch.
Over 40 people contracted measles in Disneyland and many more were likely traveling during the incubation period. If you and your children are vaccinated, you are safe. We are so fortunate to live in a time and in a place where immunizations are available. I urge you to take advantage. Measles can cause mild to severe complications including ear infections bronchitis, pneumonia, and low platelet count. 1 in 1,000 people with measles will develop encephalitis which can result in death, especially in young children. If you are worried, get informed, but know where your information comes from. As you would with any decision, trust only credible, reliable sources. Do not be swayed by the noise generated by a misinformed few. Just because people shout the loudest, does not make them correct. Vaccinations save lives.