Measles Vaccination Decisions: What’s Best for the Health of the Most Vulnerable?

by Flora Bessey, Pharm.D., CGP

On May 6, 2015 my husband and I will welcome our beautiful baby into this world.  We haven’t found out the gender.  We call the baby Poppy since when we found out we were pregnant, the baby was the size of a poppy seed.  I am sure all the parents reading this can imagine the excitement, hopes and dreams we have for the baby.

With my husband and I both working in healthcare, we are at times overly cautious about things.  Imagine our alarm when we learned of the recent measles outbreak.  On further review, our Poppy can’t get vaccinated against measles until 9 months.  That is when an infant’s immune system can process and build a response to the vaccine.

The recent outbreak is linked to a foreign traveler at Disneyland in Southern California who came into contact with a family which wasn’t vaccinated.  Several celebrities, most notably Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, have express vehement anti vaccine sentiments because of a perceived increase in the risk of autism.  This has not been proven.  Anecdotal case studies exist in chiropractic journals speaking to the toxins in vaccines causing spine issues.  But again, nothing has been proven.  We aren’t about to take medical advice from B grade celebrities and chiropractors for our baby. And, as a scientist and student of history, I know the disease had been virtually eradicated since the advent of the vaccine. Now, it has reappeared because people are exercising a choice to not vaccinate, and this unfortunately carries more weight than anything else.

Sure, we live in a country where we have a choice.  As a matter of fact if you claim a religious reason for not being vaccinated no one will ask you anything more.  But that freedom and right doesn’t give you permission to be reckless and put others’ lives at risk.  Especially the young, the old, and the immune-compromised.

Something about having a baby brings out the primitiveness in us: protect this child at all costs!!  Our Poppy will be vaccinated according to the APA schedule.  This is a decision not just to protect our child but also others.