Hi! I have coffee and cookies - wanna chat?
Reader: Sure! What would you like to chat about?
Reader: Er, I am actually kinda busy right now…
Wait! Look, I really won’t take up too much of your time. Quick question – have you had measles?
Reader: No, I don’t think so.
You live in the US – were you born before 1957? If yes, then you probably have had measles.
Reader: That would make me 54 or older and in consequence is an extremely unflattering question!
Oops, my bad. Have you been vaccinated against measles?
Reader: I think so…
You need to have had two MMR shots to be immune. You can either get a blood test to confirm or you could just get a booster shot to be sure!
Reader: Ugh. You know, I really don’t have the time to check on this….
I don’t either. But, I got the MMR shot a few weeks ago anyway. Honestly, this is important enough that you need to make the time.
Reader: Ummmm…you’re a tax consultant, right?
Reader: So…you’re not in any way qualified to tell me to get the measles vaccine?
Reader: Remind me again why I should be listening to you?
1. Measles is one of the most contagious viruses known to man. It’s a respiratory disease, which helps make it easy to spread; coughing and sneezing are symptoms of measles after all.
“If you’re unvaccinated and you get exposed to measles – you’re almost certain to get this disease” …Even after an infected person leaves a location, the virus spores left behind — on surfaces and in the air — remain active and able to transmit the disease to anyone who comes in contact for as long as two hours. http://abcn.ws/pvADJV
2. There’s no ‘cure’ for measles; the only option is to manage and treat the symptoms. http://1.usa.gov/eflt3p
3. As measles is so contagious, in order to maintain “herd immunity”, about 96% of the population needs to be immune. http://bit.ly/nlkDF1 Even 90% immunity rates are not sufficient to protect the vulnerable populations that cannot be vaccinated like pregnant women, children under a year old and those with compromised immune systems like cancer patients and those infected with HIV. http://1.usa.gov/mZvRqG
4. Measles cases are on the rise in North America. Why do we care? In 2007 there were 40 measles cases reported in France. In 2010, the number of French cases had grown to more than 5,000. http://bit.ly/j0bkDA As Seth Mnookin notes, a jump that size in the U.S. would mean 28,000 measles cases per year. http://bit.ly/iSLktW This is a disease which can reach epidemic proportions in a very short period of time.
5. How harmful is measles though, really? If you experience no complications then the answer to that question is: not very. About a week with bed rest and some paracetemol/tylenol and you’ll be fine. http://1.usa.gov/eflt3p The problem arises when complications occur – and approximately 20% of measles cases result in complications. http://bit.ly/oYS1zz These complications include:
- Severe ear infections
- Encephalitis (or inflammation of the brain). This is a very rare complication (about 1 in 1,000 or 0.001% of cases) but encephalitis induced by measles is extremely severe and the mortality rate is high (about 15% http://bit.ly/oYS1zz).
- If a pregnant woman catches measles, the fetus could be spontaneously aborted or the mother could deliver prematurely.
- Death. In 1963, before the introduction of the measles vaccine, in the U.S. there were 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths due to measles (about 1 in 10,000 or 0.0001% of cases). http://bit.ly/qkkHUB
6. Isn’t encephalitis a possible complication of the measles vaccine though? A severe reaction to MMR is considered to be so rare that its actually difficult to measure the incidence rate or to conclude definitively that it IS caused by the vaccine itself. I did the math – the risk of measles resulting in encephalitis is 1,000 times greater than the risk of MMR-induced encephalitis. http://1.usa.gov/VbOm0
I’m not a doctor; in fact I don’t even pretend to be one on TV…
…All I’m encouraging you to do is to talk to your doctor about whether YOU should get the MMR vaccine. It’s not just for kids.