Why are measles vaccinations important for your child?

Across the globe we tend to see naysayers who are adamant against vaccinations which hampers progress and results in children getting sick and suffering from lifelong complications. Sometimes this can also lead to death which could have simply been avoided with vaccination. We have seen a marked increase in measles cases mainly because the child did not receive their measles vaccinations.

Global Figures and current situation

Since the turn of the century, the availability of vaccines globally has significantly reduced child deaths from numerous diseases. Due to measles vaccination global measle deaths dropped 73% between 2000 and 2018 worldwide. Even though measles vaccine is now easily available, in 2018, there were more than 140,000 measles deaths globally mostly in children under the age of five.

It is estimated that almost 23.2 million between 2000 – 2018 were prevented because of measles vaccination. This makes the vaccine nothing short of a miracle.

What is the MMR vaccine?

The MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is recommended by the CDC to protect against these diseases. According to the CDC, children should get two doses of the vaccine, with the first dose at 12 to 15 months and second dose at 4 – 6 years of age.

The MMR vaccine is a virus-containing vaccine which means it has a weakened version of the live vaccine. After MMR vaccination, the viruses in the vaccine cause a small infection in the body which helps the person develop immunity against these diseases as the immune system fights it.

How does measles spread?

Measles is a highly contagious disease spread through direct contact or through the air. Infecting the respiratory tract, measles spreads throughout the body. Certain communities or families opt not to get their children vaccinated which increases the risk of measles. Thus, it is very important to get measles vaccination.

Symptoms of Measles

The first signs of measles is a high fever and it usually begins ten to 12 days after getting in contact with the measles virus. The fever lasts 4 days to maybe a week. Initially small white spots inside the cheeks with a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes. This is followed by a rash which appears all over the face and upper neck. In the course of 3-4 days the rash spreads all over the body reaching the hands and feet.

The rash lasts for almost five to six days and then finally fades. Usually, the rash occurs two weeks after exposure to the virus, but it can be between 7 to 18 days. Measles is painful and can be life threatening thus it is imperative to get measles vaccinations.

Complication from measles

A dangerous disease and measle related death because of complications commonly occur in children under the age of 5 years and adults over 30 years of age. These complications can be very serious some of which are blindness, pneumonia, infection that can result in the swelling of the brain, ear and respiratory infections to name a few. The MMR vaccine has saved countless lives who otherwise would have been at the risk of getting measles.

Increased measle cases in America

In 2019, there was a surge in the number of measles cases in the United States of America. All laboratories and hospitals in the US are required to inform authorities about a patient with measles. 1,282 cases of measles were reported in 2019 with confirmed patients in 31 states. This many cases were last seen in 1992 and it shows if we are not vigilant, diseases can come back resulting in life threatening complications.

It was seen that the rise of measles was mostly in communities who did not get vaccinated, the lack of vaccination was one of the main reasons for the increased number of cases. The unfortunate part is that people who are not vaccinated put children at risk who are yet to be vaccinated. This they are a danger to themselves and to others.

The world has seen polio completely wiped out except for two countries because of the polio vaccine. Vaccines are a miracle which have given so many children the chance to live a full life which would have not been possible a century ago. It is disheartening to see communities who are against vaccination because vaccines have turned the course of history, increased lifespans and saved children who might not have survived if vaccines were not available.

In conclusion, vaccinate your children and it is for their own safety. It is the right of every child to be given the opportunity to live without the risk of diseases which can now be prevented.