Measles is a big deal. Though, on paper, it might not seem like it. Its symptoms sound innocuous enough: Runny nose, fever, cough. Only the rash seems to separate it from the common cold1. From this perspective, it’s easy to see why some may question the need to vaccinate at all. But it’s a flawed perspective, often viewed by those fortunate enough to have access to medical care and nutrition. Very few die from measles itself—something like one out of two thousand. The danger of measles lies in the complications. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
- Ear Infection
- Encephalitis (Brain inflammation)
Scary stuff. Luckily, encephalitis is pretty rare, appearing in maybe one in a thousand measles case. Pneumonia, on the other hand, appears in one out of twenty cases. For those who don’t know much about pneumonia, it can be deadly to children or the elderly. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, “Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old.”
This is why we vaccinate against measles. It’s not you (the reader of this post) we’re worried about. It’s the infants who are most at risk of potentially fatal complications. By the way, diarrhea (one out of ten cases)? Second leading cause of death in children under five years old worldwide. The fact is, things that young, healthy adults just shrug off, are really dangerous for infants.
The comic above is based on an actual argument I heard somebody make. Somebody (who is probably vaccinated) saying that we should just let everybody get measles so we can “toughen up”. Ignoring the fact that they seemed to have forgotten that vaccines provide you with the same immunity as getting measles without having to get sick, it’s a callous and ridiculous argument to make. The MMR Vaccine saves lives, and it protects those who are too young to receive it, as well as those who are too weak, from being exposed to measles.
So quit being a doof and get your shots.
Though you know if there was a vaccine against the common cold, we’d be eating that up. ↩︎