Hasn’t Ended Outbreaks
Even in a population where the use of the measles vaccine is widespread, outbreaks still happen. In the U.S., more than 90 percent of people vaccinate their children against measles. In New York, the site of the most recent outbreak, vaccination rates are even higher.
So, you can’t necessarily trust that high vaccination levels among your neighbors will protect from getting sick. Even with steady vaccination rates, the incidence of measles in the United States is on the rise. The CDC reports “On March 13, 2013, an intentionally unvaccinated adolescent aged 17 years returned to New York City from London, United Kingdom, while infectious with measles. This importation led to the largest outbreak of measles in the United States since 1996.“
Health officials track nearly every case to a foreign source – either an American tourist picking up the disease overseas or a non-US citizen (legal or not) carrying the disease into the country.
While vaccination rates remain steady and have even risen a little in the U.S., the worldwide vaccination rate for measles is falling. That means imported measles cases will continue to be a growing problem.
Making an Informed Decision
about Measles Vaccination
Now, we know it might sound like we’re vaccine supporters. The truth is, we have mixed feelings about vaccines. We believe that we generally over-vaccinate our children, and we urge parents to research vaccines thoroughly before administering them.
But, we’re not those who think every vaccine is terrible. Nor are we those who think refusing a vaccine is socially irresponsible.
In the case of the measles, these are the facts:
The vaccine is effective.
Measles is highly contagious and most effectively prevented by the vaccine.
For most people, measles is not a dangerous disease, but for some it is deadly. About one in five will develop mild complications like ear infections or bronchitis. One to 2 patients in 1,000 will suffer a permanent disability or death.
The measles vaccine does not contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, or aluminum compounds.
The vaccine has been developed using a cell line derived from an aborted human fetus, making its use morally objectionable to those who oppose abortion.
Side effects of the measles vaccine include a mild fever, rash, and joint pain. Serious side effects aren’t common.
Based on that information and the additional research you do, you’re the only one able to decide if measles vaccination is best for you and your family members.
without the Vaccine
If you choose not to vaccinate, you can still take steps to prevent measles infection. These steps will probably sound familiar, because they’re the same steps you should take to protect yourself during cold and flu season.
First, take good care of your immune system. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and keep your sugar intake to a minimum.
Second, during times when infectious disease risk is higher, supplement with a probiotic, vitamin C, and zinc. These three natural supplements help strengthen your immune system. Building a stronger immune system will help you fight off diseases before they get a foothold in your body and make you symptomatic.
Third, and you already know this, but practice good hand-washing habits. You should wash your hands before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and any time you come home.
New Habit to Prevent Measels
or Any Other Type of Infection
Now here’s the new habit we urge you to adopt…
Learn to avoid touching your face. Germs don’t enter your body through your fingertips (unless you have a cut), they generally enter through your nose and mouth. So make an effort to break any habit that involves touching your face, and you’ll lower your risk of getting sick.
Avoid big crowds when an outbreak is in the news. This won’t protect you from getting infected at the ground level of an outbreak, but it’s a big help in keeping you safe from outbreaks in progress.
If you or one of your family members is exposed to measles and is at high risk of complications (infants, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system), ask your doctor for a hyper-immune gamma gobulin injection. When given within five days of exposure, it can reduce or even prevent symptoms from forming.
In healthy children and adults, most cases of the measles will run their course with bed rest and lots of liquids. Keep sick people away from others for at least four days after the rash disappears. You may also take Echinacea and astragalus to support the immune system while it fights off the disease.
Measles is a miserable disease, but one which most people recover from unscathed. However, it’s important to watch for complications like infections or an unusual level of listlessness that might indicate brain swelling. If something seems wrong beyond the normal symptoms of the disease, seek a doctor’s care immediately.