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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: 4, Interesting) by fritsd on Wednesday February 11 2015, @02:51PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Wednesday February 11 2015, @02:51PM (#143595) Journal

    If you're not interested in really vague anecdotes, skip this.

    My grandmother, who was from 1898, once told me about the flu.

    I was very young (anyway I don't remember too well) and I was leafing through her prayer-book; a bible with little "bidprentjes", small leaflets remembering which of her family and friends died when.

    I vaguely remember her talking about two of her kin (I think they were nephews) who died from the big flu. That must have been the Spanish Flu from 1918 [].

    Now try to imagine how different life was, only 100 years ago, in the rich Western Europe: diseases were not something exciting. Diseases were things that you or your siblings could die from. Of course, it was sad, but what can you do except pray? People had larger families because you never knew which ones would be taken by the Grim Reaper before their time. Estimated 10% mortality rate.

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  • (Score: 2) by gnuman on Wednesday February 11 2015, @11:12PM

    by gnuman (5013) on Wednesday February 11 2015, @11:12PM (#143852)

    Flu still kills tens of thousands a year in the US. Vaccines are not very effective against it (yet - effective flu vaccine is being worked on). In the early years of your grandmother, regular bacterial infections were far more deadly than any flu.. Antibiotics fixed those problems. []

    But vaccines are very effective against other diseases. Polio would have been almost eradicated if it wasn't for some idiots in funny hats terrorizing local populations. Small pox doesn't exist in the wild anymore and we don't even need a vaccine against it anymore.