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The Cardiologist's Wife - Information on Vaccines
Apr 18, 2019

The World Health Organization recently named vaccine hesitancy as one of the world’s top 10 global health threats of 2019. Despite known complications and the possibility of death, there are a growing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. In 2000, measles was considered to be eradicated but we now find ourselves in the middle of one of the worst outbreaks in years. In just the past week, there were 90 new cases reported with 20 states affected so far. Missouri has reported measles.

The facts are simple: vaccines can save your child’s life. It is important to understand why vaccines were developed in the first place and that is because these diseases not only make people feel bad for several days, many can have serious, even deadly complications. Vaccines have successfully wiped out many diseases such as small pox and malaria. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Here are the facts about each of these diseases so you can decide if it is worth the risk of your child contracting one.

According to the CDC, measles is a very contagious viral disease spread through coughing and sneezing. It is so contagious that one person will spread it to 90% of the unvaccinated people around him or her. Symptoms start with a high fever, followed by a cough and a runny nose. Finally the telltale red rash of tiny bumps appears, starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body. Measles can be very serious, especially in young children as it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis or swelling of the brain, mental impairment and death. Before the vaccine was developed in 1963, hundreds died each year from measles while thousands were hospitalized.

Mumps is also a viral infection that affects the salivary glands near your ear and causes swelling along the jaw and cheek. Symptoms include pain along the jaw or sides of the face, fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness, fatigue and pain while chewing or swallowing. Complications from mumps, while rare, include inflammation of the testicles in males who have reached puberty, or ovaries in women, inflammation of the pancreas, brain or spinal cord or hearing loss or deafness.

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious viral disease. Rubella is usually mild, with a low fever, sore throat and a rash. However, rubella can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects in a developing fetus if a pregnant woman contracts the disease.

The flu virus usually makes people feel very sick. They experience fever, muscles aches, chills, headaches, fatigue, weakness and a sore throat. Complications from the flu include bronchitis, heart problems, ear infections and most serious, pneumonia which can lead to death. Last year, about 80,000 people died from the flu here in the U.S. If you contract the flu after receiving the vaccine, you will have a much milder case.

Vaccines are offered to the public only after a long period of careful testing and reviews by doctors, scientists and healthcare researchers. Even though vaccines may cause temporary pain or discomfort, this is minimal compared to contracting the actual disease. Allergic reactions are extremely rare. It is important to realize that when you decide not to vaccinate, not only are you exposing yourself or your children to disease but that you are possibly exposing others outside your family such as an infant too young to be vaccinated. Therefore, your choice potentially affects many others. Many unfortunately believe that contracting the disease will actually strengthen the immune system more than a vaccine which is untrue and only unnecessarily exposes your child to potential complications.

If you have questions about vaccines, go to a doctor or other knowledgeable source, not your neighbor, actress or website that does not have scientific credibility to back up their claims. Your health and life depend on making good, informed decisions.

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