A few months ago, I wrote about my support for vaccinations especially in regard to the pertussis outbreak in our state. Washington and Oregon have two of the highest rates of unvaccinated children perhaps due to the large numbers who follow "alternative" lifestyles. These are people who believe vaccinations cause more problems than they prevent. Of course there are also simply the lazy people who just can't be bothered to protect their children. Both groups have always driven me up the wall since they are relying on the immunity of the rest of us. Now this issue is brought into stark relief for me by a recent experience.
A regular part of our weekly schedule is a visit to a certain shopping area which includes a grocery store and a Starbucks. We often grab bread or eggs before meeting a friend for coffee. Imagine my dismay when I read in our local paper that there had been a case of measles reported in our town. When I went to look at the dates and locations of exposure, I found that our one regular stop was the main focus of concern. Even the times of day lined up. The rest of us are fine, but since my baby is too young to be vaccinated, she is at real risk for this illness. We had three whole weeks to wait before we were in the clear. I am happy to report that she is fine, but that is a matter of luck and nothing more.
A baby or child who catches measles is in for several weeks of recuperation and a host of unpleasant symptoms. Most children, however, do recover without permanent harm. Pregnant women are a whole other issue. If they are expose to measles their babies risk blindness, deafness, and even occasionally death. This is not about some vague desire to be "natural" or "have less chemicals" or "avoid autism." Science, the best information we have available, does not support these concerns. It is about protecting the lives and health of my baby and yours.