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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 10 2015, @11:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-no-harm dept.

The Chicago Sun Times reports that in a disturbing California Bay Area trend, parents wary of vaccinating their kids are considering having their unvaccinated children attend measles parties with those who are infected. The idea is the same as a chicken pox party. Parents bring their children to these gatherings to get them sick once so they won’t have to deal with the virus again. Except, most cases of chicken pox aren’t deadly. Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis says that although his office has received no reports of such parties, officials have fielded several calls from parents asking about the benefits of "natural immunity," or the idea that immunity gained from contracting a disease is superior to immunity conferred through vaccination. Measles is a serious illness that can cause brain swelling, long-term neurological effects and even death, Willis says. Plus, he added, there is no evidence that immunity gained through becoming sick with measles is any better than vaccine-imparted immunity. "Any parents who are considering this, they should have a look at a child who’s really sick with measles, and I think they’d change their minds."

Willis and other health officials suspect the concept of a measles party may have grown out of "pox parties," which were popular in the 1980s, before the chickenpox vaccine was widely available. Some parents, reports said, even arranged to pay strangers for licked lollipops, saliva or other items from infected children. Willis says he still hears reports of “pox parties” occurring in Marin today, even though a chickenpox vaccine has been available for more than two decades. "It was not a good idea then, and it's still not a good idea," says Wilbert Mason.

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @04:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @04:23AM (#143443)

    you need to get out a bit more.

    many places in the world don't have access to vaccines and kids grow up just fine. granted there are problems with things like polio and hiv, but getting your knickers in a twist because some kids in a first world country don't get their measles shots is the stupidest thing i've heard all day

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by aXis on Wednesday February 11 2015, @05:31AM

    by aXis (2908) on Wednesday February 11 2015, @05:31AM (#143467)

    You keep using the term "just fine" as though it's a trivial matter, but the facts speak differntly. From the Unicef website []

    Measles, a viral respiratory infection, killed over 500,000 children in 2003, more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The measles death toll in Africa is so high – every minute one child dies – that many mothers don't give children real names until they have survived the disease. Measles weakens the immune system and renders children very susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Those that survive may suffer blindness, deafness or brain damage.

    Tetanus, referred to in the Old Testament as the “seventh-day death,” killed an estimated 200,000 newborns and 30,000 mothers in 2001. The tetanus bacteria are ubiquitous – they live in soil, in animal dung and in feces. Tetanus can infect newborns if the umbilical cord is cut with unsterile instruments or the incision treated with contaminated dressings.

    Polio, a viral infection of the nervous system, can cause crippling paralysis within hours. Significant progress has been made towards eradicating the disease, but it remains a serious threat to children in areas where the wild poliovirus still circulates. The number of cases worldwide dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to under 1,300 in 2004

    Rotavirus, a pervasive wheel-shaped virus, is a leading cause of severe diarrhoea in infants and young children, particularly in the developing world. Currently, there is no vaccine approved for the disease, which kills 600,000 children under five each year.

    Yellow fever, a viral disease that occurs primarily in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, kills 30,000 each year. The virus is transmitted most often through the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Once controlled fairly well by widespread vaccination and mosquito control, the disease is making a comeback and outbreaks are becoming more frequent.

    Doesnt sound "fine" to me. Letting our vaccination rates drop below the levels required for herd immunity is dangerous and will lead to a large number of innocent poeple dying because of a small number of stupid parents.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @08:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @08:03AM (#143493)

      You are talking about Africa - a third world continent where in many places malnutrition and starvation makes diseases that would otherwise be fought off by the immune system deadly, simply because fighting off a disease takes a lot of energy.

      I believe the article was talking about the USA, where energy is abundant, and most people have enough stored that they could fight off three diseases without eating anything - and still be overweight afterwards.

      (And if the article is really about Africa, forget about vaccinations. That's simply not available.