My brother got infected with the measles when he was one year’s old. That was in 1956, when there was no reliable vaccine for measles.
He developed complications from the disease – a high fever, then a rash, then convulsions. Then he was taken to the hospital, and he became unconscious, and remained in a coma for three months.
The measles caused encephalitis, (or swelling of the brain), which resulted in brain damage.
My brother was lucky he survived the disease. Some, (like writer Roald Dahl’s daughter), die from measles encephalitis. Approximately one in 1,000 who contract measles get encephalitis.
The doctors told my Mom that it was unlikely that my brother would ever be able to walk or talk.
He struggled with his co-ordination, but, at three years old, he started walking, and he also started talking, but his speech was slow and slurred.
His functioning continued to improve over the next twenty years, until, after attending a special needs school, he landed a full time job, which he continues to work at today, thirty three years later.
Today, we have the ability to eradicate the measles and the suffering that this highly contagious disease causes.
The side effects from the measles vaccine are extremely low, but the risk of complications from measles, ranging from ear and chest infections to encephalitis remains high.
I am so grateful that my three children were able to get all their vaccinations, and I think parents have a responsibility to educate themselves on the facts, and have their children vaccinated, not only to protect the lives of their children, but the lives of others as well.