EpiWonk’s unpleasant brush with measles

Dr. John Lawrence Kiely (aka EpiWonk) has shattered his incognito status to share his first-hand account of falling ill with measles in 1959.

His educated opinion, bolstered by this experience: Measles not worth the risk.

It’s 1959. I’m in second grade. I’d caught the measles, just like my brothers and sisters and friends. Except unlike them, my measles didn’t go away. It got worse and turned into something I’d never heard of: pneumonia. I spent a month in the hospital, survived, and spent a few more months recovering at home. But more than four million children got measles in the United States in that year and 385 died.

Most Americans don’t remember those days. Why? Because four years after I got sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a mass measles immunization program. By 2000, the number of reported cases of measles had decreased to 86 and the number of deaths to one.

Go read it all.

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3 Responses

  1. When I was a child, I had a normal case of the chicken pox and a scar on my forehead to show for it. That’s it.

    When my husband was child, he came down with chicken pox, and 24 hours later was in a coma and nearly died several times. Infection quickly took over his body. Suffering many surgeries, hearing loss, and years of wheel chair use, he made it to adulthood. Although he has severe organ damage and wears hearing aids, he now leads a normal life.

    Yeah, I had my kids vaccinated.

  2. Wow. Very powerful post. My Mom had scarlet fever when she was a child. She is lucky to be alive too.

  3. My sister got pertussis when she was 1 month old. She battled it for months and very nearly died. I was 3 and half years old, but I remember my mom rushing her into the bathroom and turning the shower on full blast to make steam. My baby sister was blue and not breathing, my mom would just sob and wait for the ambulance.

    My son gets all his vaccines on time. I get my boosters because I couldn’t live with the thought that I might infect someone’s tiny baby.

    I wonder if most people who reject vaccines do so because they have no first hand experience with how terrible some of these diseases can be.

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