MMR: Victim of its own success
However, now we are suddenly witnessing a major outbreak of measles, and so I am again reminded of Emily. I watch, with increasing frustration and anger, more and more antivaccine parents refusing to immunize their children with the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine. As of September 19 this year, 1241 cases of measles have been reported by the CDC, the highest number since 1992. Why is there no public outcry to mandate universal measles vaccination without exception for all children?
I am certain that every parent wants only the best for his/her child, and this includes the antivaccine group. When I am faced with a parent who is hesitant or refuses to immunize his or her child, I explain to them how safe and effective the vaccine has been for over 50 years, but I also tell them about Emily and who she was before and after she caught measles.
Many practicing pediatricians have little or no experience with measles and its complications, unless, like me, they started practicing pediatrics before the routine use of the measles vaccine in 1963 or before the last major outbreak of measles that occurred 25 years ago. (The MMR vaccine was licensed in 1971 and recommended to be administered in 2 doses in 1989.)
What we can do
For those community pediatricians who have little or no experience in diagnosing or treating measles, I implore you to emphasize to all your patients the absolute necessity to fully immunize every child on time and without delay, and explain to any reluctant parents that the group that questions the safety or effectiveness of the measles vaccine is not only wrong but is jeopardizing the health and well-being of their children. Tell them that the British physician who first reported that the MMR vaccine could cause autism was found to be a dangerous fraud and so lost his license to practice.
The antivaccine group must be made more aware of the terrible complications of measles. In my opinion, not vaccinating a child against measles is not only idiotic, it is immoral and dangerous.
Please remember Emily.