Story by: Mary Jennings on February 18, 2019
In January 2019, 79 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The states that have reported cases to CDC are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
In a given year, the CDC says, more measles cases can occur for any of the following reasons:
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that measles was at an all-time low in 2016. In 2000, the CDC considered measles eliminated in the United States.
After a measles outbreak in 2017, Kentucky health officials recommended measles vaccinations for children and some adults to prevent a similar situation close to home.
“Measles is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death,” said Sally J. Wheeler, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Clarksville. “It spreads very easily among those who aren’t vaccinated — just being in the same room with someone who has measles can get you infected.”
If you have questions about measles or to schedule a vaccination, contact a Primary care provider or pediatrician.
Recommendations for vaccines include:
So what happened? Much of the resurgence can be traced back to a lack of vaccinations, according to the CDC and WHO. In some cases, people had concerns that disorders on the autism spectrum might be linked to the vaccines children receive.
Now we’re getting personal — at least for me. My son, Glen, has Asperger syndrome, which is a disorder on the autism spectrum.
Autism and autism spectrum disorder are a group of complex disorders that affect brain development. They are characterized by difficulties in communication, social interaction and repetitive behavior patterns.
Autism is being diagnosed more now than in previous decades, according to Stephen K. Johnson, M.D., a pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Springhurst.
According to Dr. Johnson, debate remains on whether this increase is because there are more children with autism, changes in diagnostic criteria, more frequent autism screening, physicians’ increased familiarity with the signs of autism or a combination of all of these factors.
Increasing evidence suggests genetic factors and brain abnormalities are responsible for the development of autism.
It is not, he said, because of vaccinations.
“Although a 1998 study suggested that vaccines cause autism, the study and its author have been discredited after the results were found to be based on fraudulent data,” Dr. Johnson said. “Since that time, hundreds of well-designed studies involving over a million children have been conducted without finding any support for the idea that autism is caused by vaccines.”
I field the question about autism and vaccines a lot.
My answer is a little less scientific than Dr. Johnson’s: I say it doesn’t matter.
Yes, I know. In reality, it does matter. But does it matter to me? No. Does it matter to my son, Glen? No.
During a discussion about vaccines, Glen asked me if he was sick, and why someone would risk a serious illness because they feared becoming like him.
These are some great questions. I can only answer them for me. Vaccinations did not cause his autism.
But more important, it is part of what makes my son who he is. There is nothing wrong with him. He does not need a “cure.”
More teens still need the HPV vaccine
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In our family, we accept Glen for who he is and focus on his strengths rather than the why of a situation I cannot and would not change. I would rather work through ways to help him be successful. I found that advocating in school for services and appropriate class placement served me better than advocating for a cure or a change in vaccine policies.
If you have concerns about vaccines or autism, be sure to talk with your pediatrician. If you don’t have a pediatrician or family doctor, we can help you.
The strategy worked for us. Glen graduated from college cum laude in four years with a degree in communications. He has a job he loves as a reporter for a community newspaper. He is kind, he is honest, he is hard-working and responsible. He is awesome.
Vaccinations shouldn’t scare you. But the return of measles should. Measles can be a serious disease.