August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The importance of vaccination is becoming a bigger issue every year, as 2014 has seen the highest number of measles cases reported since 2000. That is scary.
Too many people think that diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chickenpox are “normal childhood illnesses,” and that their kid’s immune system is strong enough to fight off these diseases. Too many people have forgotten what it was like before vaccines were commonplace. Too many people don’t stop to think about the long-term consequences of not vaccinating. Not just for them, but for those around them. Even for people they have never met.
When people tell me measles isn’t a big deal, I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.
I am one of those people you have never met.
My story starts before I was even born. My older brother was given the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. He was one of the small percentage of recipients that had a bad reaction. So when I was born, they skipped giving it to me. Not to worry, herd immunity would protect me — at least that’s what my doctor said. Continue reading