Why measles is coming back

When my girls were little, I listened to my pediatrician and made sure they had their immunizations when they were supposed to have them. I certainly didn’t like watching my children wail miserably when getting that “little stick.” I knew, however, that getting their shots would prevent a lot more pain later. Vaccines, such as the one for diseases measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) have been tested again and again for safety.

Today, though, some parents don’t have their children immunized for a variety of reasons. They may have heard, erroneously, that the vaccines are not safe. For instance, in the late 1990s, former medical researcher Andrew Wakefield published a report that said he had linked the MMR vaccine to the onset of autism. That report was later discredited and retracted from the medical journal The Lancet. But the damage was done.

A study in the medical journal Pediatrics found that in 2000, 2.1 percent of U.S. children who received other recommended vaccines did not get the MMR vaccine, an increase from 0.77 percent in 1995. According to CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH, measles, long considered a dormant disease, is “resurging, with 175 confirmed cases and 20 hospitalizations so far this year.”

“This isn’t the failure of a vaccine; it’s the failure to vaccinate,” Frieden said, adding that parents “should protect their children by making sure they’ve had two doses of measles vaccine.”

So do your homework, moms and dads. Protect your children by getting them immunized on time.

–Jackie Hays

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