THE BLOG

Have Access To a Measles Vaccine? Get It Now

04/06/2014 11:23 EDT | Updated 06/06/2014 05:59 EDT

We've got measles. The collective we, I mean. Nobody in my actual family has contracted the disease, thank goodness. But the latest in a string of localized outbreaks across the country is in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, and that's close enough to get my attention.

The measles vaccine became available in 1963 and by 1998 Canada had officially eliminated measles. 400,000 children in Canada alone used to get measles every year and 75 of those would die from it. It's a highly contagious virus that begins with flu-like symptoms and develops into a rash and dangerously high fever. Complications arising from measles can include an ear infection, bronchitis, laryngitis, croup, pneumonia, encephalitis, pregnancy loss or low platelet count. There is no treatment for an established case of the measles. We can only prevent it through vaccinations.

So you know where there is going.

I believe in vaccinations. I believe in evidence-based medical science and technological advancements. My kids have all been vaccinated. But there are no villains here.

I also believe that the parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are making that choice out of love. They are only doing what they think is right for their families based on the information in front of them. And that's really all any of can do.

I totally get the impulse to resist anything pushed on us by the mainstream, too. There really isn't an easier target to hate than big pharma, after all. Across the board, critical thinking and anti-corporate instincts are qualities I admire and respect in people. So I do get it.

Everyone is scared. The people who oppose vaccines are wary of chemicals and additives. They're not sure if their babies will have an adverse reaction to the shot. They may even have good reasons for distrusting the medical profession as a whole. Other people are scared that the resurgence of dangerous childhood illnesses like measles and whooping cough is going to put their loved ones in danger, especially newborn infants and others who are immunocompromised.

And we get angry when we're scared. We get angry and defensive. We point fingers and call each other out. When mothers are scared for their children, that shit can get real ugly, real fast.

But look, guys. We have measles again. It was eliminated in Canada 16 years ago and now it's back. It's back because we all need to be vaccinated in order to eradicate disease. When the number of immunized people in any population or pocket of a population starts to fall, that provides the perfect foothold for a disease. That's not scare mongering perpetrated by big pharma in conjunction with the mainstream medical industry. That's just the truth. It's happening now.

Of course, we can't all be vaccinated. We wait until newborns are two months old before giving them their first shots. Some people have underlying medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. And in rare instances a vaccination just might not be effective in any given individual. So those of us who can vaccinate our children really should.

You're not a bad person or even a bad parent if you disagree with me. I understand it's not that simple. But please talk to your doctor. Talk to several doctors. Read widely. Think about it some more, okay?

This post originally appeared on Playground Confidential.

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