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Texas kids spread measles because their parents won't vaccinate them

August 26, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
In North Dakota, parents are not required to have their children vaccinated, but it's something they really ought to do.

I see on the wire yet another story about a measles outbreak, this time in Texas, that is linked to a megachurch where the pastor had expressed skepticism about vaccines. She apparently talked about a link between autism and vaccines that has long since been debunked by scientific research. Someone who had recently traveled overseas visited the church and infected some of the church members. Twenty people so far have been infected, according to Slate. Many of those infected are children of homeschooling families that had avoided vaccinating their children.

Measles was once a common childhood illness that most people recovered from, but not all. There was always the risk of complications, including more serious infections such as encephalitis (1 in 1,000 infected gets that) or even death. About 1 in 20 people who come down with the measles will be so sick they must be hospitalized, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is one of the diseases I'm glad I have been immunized against. Unfortunately, I was too old to be immunized against chicken pox, also a once common childhood illness. I had a miserable case of the pox at age 9 that kept me out of school for a week, left me with scars all over my body and probably will result in a case of the shingles in another few decades. I hear about "crunchy mamas" who hold "pox parties" to deliberately infect their children with the disease and think they're nuts.

People like the parents at the megachurch in Texas are increasing the risk of other people being infected with measles because they haven't vaccinated their kids. There are people who cannot be vaccinated because they have some ailment that would make it dangerous. There are also always people in whom the vaccine wasn't entirely effective. Herd immunity – caused by a large percentage of the population being immunized – protects those people from illness and its potential complications. By refusing to vaccinate, the parents in Texas have weakened that herd immunity.

So do the small, but growing, number of North Dakota parents who also refuse to vaccinate for various reasons. In this state, parents are allowed to refuse vaccinations for religious or philosophical reasons and public schools must still admit their children. I don't think that should change. I just wish they would reconsider.

 
 

Article Comments

(14)

nativeawayfromhome

Sep-03-13 5:23 PM

if vacinating if 85% effective what is not doing it. 0% right? i'm glad i vacinated my kids.

AndreaJohnson

Sep-03-13 4:38 PM

At last count, the measles epidemic in Texas was up to 25 people infected.

MattRothchild

Sep-03-13 2:49 PM

Yay for fear for Big Pharma's bottom line!

locomotive

Sep-02-13 8:16 PM

"Loco are you for real?You are so full of yourself that you better go take a stupid test becouse you would pass with flying colors."

leftywing, you just aced the "slam 'em if you got nothing else" test. Good for you.

disgusted

Sep-01-13 4:02 PM

No, it is an argument for securing the borders.

AndreaJohnson

Aug-31-13 8:45 PM

Actually, if illegal immigrants do have a greater tendency to have diseases like measles or whooping cough or hepatitis, etc., it is a good argument for public health benefits being extended to illegal immigrants. Failure to vaccinate people in the country illegally also puts the rest of the population at risk, just as failure to school their children would put a lot of bored and idle and uneducated kids on the street who might do mischief. But I'm not sure that's an argument either for or against deportation.

disgusted

Aug-30-13 6:09 PM

Something that never seems to be discussed when it comes to vaccines and spread of diseases is the fact that illegal immigrants carry with them such diseases. Locomotive is right. Nothing is 100% effective. Parents can still have the choice. maybe, we should mandate that everyone have their tonsils removed before they are 3. Risks, such as severe bleeding, increase when adults under go such a 'simple' procedure.

locomotive

Aug-30-13 6:07 PM

Thanks for clarifying, Andrea. It can be a divisive issue.

AndreaJohnson

Aug-30-13 9:52 AM

If the kid has had a vaccine reaction or has a family history of severe vaccine reactions, there's good reason for a medical exemption. But then those kids rely even more on herd immunity to protect them from getting those diseases. Parents like these have the luxury of NOT vaccinating their kids precisely because so many people in the United States do vaccinate and they haven't seen the real dangers of contracting those diseases. Yes, I am favor of vaccination. They save lives.

locomotive

Aug-29-13 11:25 AM

CDC said the figure for vaccine effectiveness is "85% to 95%" not just that higher figure of 95%. A 10% difference out of 100% can mean a lot, depending upon the circumstance.

Let me guess: you're pro-vaccination, Andrea? I know parents whose children had reactions to their shots, more intense than site soreness or slight fever. So, despite those anecdotes and others that can be easily researched, parents should "always" vaccinate every child?

AndreaJohnson

Aug-29-13 9:15 AM

Clearly not, since the disease had spread to more than 20 people at last count, ranging from babies to adults. The epicenter was this church where the pastor had said (from the pulpit) that she was worried vaccines cause autism. And, of course, there's always a chance that the measles-infected children could spread the disease to someone they interact with in the community who could not be immunized because of a weakened immune system or some other ailment or who was vaccinated but is vulnerable because the vaccine wasn't entirely effective. Vaccines are somewhere around 95 percent effective but aren't entirely foolproof. That's why herd immunity is important.

MattRothchild

Aug-28-13 1:59 PM

"Parents who deliberately refuse to vaccinate their children put their children and only their children at risk of a potentially serious illness"

Fixed it for you.

Anyway, I started thinking all the emphasis on vaccination was all about Big Pharma's bottom line when I found out in high school that chicken pox is now on the list of "required" vaccinations. Give me a break. I got CP as a kid; it wasn't that bad save for the week I actually had it. My understanding of measles comes from Baby Boomers I know (most of whom got measles as kids). Again, about as bad as CP. Nothing to fear.

AndreaJohnson

Aug-27-13 11:28 AM

Vaccines are largely effective. In the cases where kids lack complete immunity and have been immunized, the immunizations of the rest of the population reduces the chances they will catch the disease -- herd immunity. Parents who deliberately refuse to vaccinate their children put the rest of the population at risk of a potentially serious illness, as the parents at this church did.

locomotive

Aug-26-13 8:09 PM

From the CDC: "No vaccine is 100% effective. Most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients. For reasons related to the individual, some will not develop immunity."

I disagree with this blog's title. The CDC itself indicates on their website that there's no vaccine that provides 100% immunity. So even if all the TX parents had vaccinated their kids, there might still have been cases of measles in spite of their vaccinations, as a result of their exposure to the measles carrier.

Could we then imagine another blog's title to be "Texas kids spread measles in spite of their parents vaccinating them?" Probably not...

 
 

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