Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Message to parents/anti-vaxxers: Measles can kill!

In 2014, my one-year old niece Jessae Mae Udtohan-Jala had measles.

Jessa Mae had runny nose, fever, cough and sore, red and swollen eyes. She had rash over her body. Jessa Mae was tired. She was not in the mood.

The doctor said Jessa Mae had measles.

Measles is a very contagious infection caused by the rubeola virus.

I had measles when I was a kid. We were told that a person can have measles once in his/her lifetime. Maybe true but I had measles twice in my lifetime but not that worse when I was kid. I remember that there were parents who thought measles was just a simple disease by leaving their children to stay at home without taking medication resulting to have death.

Even people who were vaccinated, some might still get it. Why? Health workers explain that the measles vaccine works about 95 percent of the time.

Jessa Mae was one of the beneficiaries of the free measles and polio vaccination in the country as part of the program of the Department of Health every January of the year.

And that’s for free.

“The vaccination is free and available in barangay,” said Paulina Udtohan, 60, Jessa Mae’s grandmother.

So there’s no reason that a parent can’t bring her child to the nearest barangay health center.

Paulina also believes that there are no side effects.

Measles is so highly contagious that before there was vaccination, for every case of measles, nine-out-of-ten people exposed would end up getting measles. It’s that contagious.

To intensify the campaign, village health workers do house to house info drive to urge parents to have their children immunized against measles in any government health center.

The message: Measles is a highly contagious disease and fatal.

“Although it is not a forced vaccine program,” said Paulina. “It’s up to the parents to have their children vaccinated.”

Personally, my nephews and niece had Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) shots and I didn’t see any signs of “plastic immunity” in them. I hope there’s nothing to worry.

Most of the parents fear that vaccination may cause further complications as children will develop “plastic immunity.” But I think there’s a little evidence on it. If the children are healthy or no serious health concerns, they should be vaccinated.

In the Philippines, there is a massive campaign and constant health education programs that are being conducted especially those who reportedly refused to accept immunization because of their belief.  These people may not be compelled to undergo immunization, but they were told to also consider the welfare of others.

 I don’t have kids but if ever I have kids I will make sure they would receive anti-measles and polio vaccinations. I don’t hear serious side effects from being immunized but I heard some deaths because of the complications from measles. We don’t know when an outbreak occur, prevention is better than cure.

I was thinking measles outbreak can only happen in developing countries like Philippines. While Philippines is aiming for a measles-free country, the US has growing unvaccinated people.

Immunization has saved more lives in Philippines in the last 10 years than any other health measure. If we can do it here in the Philippines, other countries can.

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