Over the past few months, a measles outbreak has spread across the United States. This disease, causing a red-spotted rash and a fever, is prevalent within children, and can be extremely dangerous if not treated properly. With this recent outbreak, many have paid their doctors visits and received injections to build up immunity. Others, however, have reportedly taken another route to “fight” the measles off.
News has spread throughout the country about alleged “measles parties” being thrown to prevent the measles infection. In short, at a measles party, parents put infected children in contact with uninfected children in hopes that breathing the same air, playing with the same toys or drinking from the same cups will help the healthy child build up immunity toward the measles. Or, better yet, perhaps the uninfected child would catch the measles, get it over with and be good as new. Brilliant … NOT.
These kinds of parties became known in 1995 when families and neighbors held “chicken pox parties” before the chicken pox vaccine was created. Unfortunately, “disease parties” have continued throughout the years, including in 2011 when people tried to order chicken pox-infected lollipops, The Huffington Post reported. Therefore, although the actual occurrences of these recent measles parties are difficult to prove, simply word of them is enough to cause health officials to take action.
The California Department of Public Health expressed its concern and its strong discouragement of intentional exposure to measles. It is very risky and dangerous to expose a child to measles, not only for the child, but also for those around him or her. Keeping this disease contained is a proactive way to combat it, but purposeful exposure is just asking for doors to open up and further spread the measles nationwide.
My question is, what would spark a family in 2015 to even think of throwing a measles party? Perhaps there is a lack of understanding of the vaccinations, which then translates into a fear of the unknown. Maybe some parents think that vaccines are too inauthentic, too “man-made,” and that they protect their children by providing them with a homemade remedy. Other parents may fear that an injection will physically harm their child, or that the vaccine will even cause the child to grow ill.
To me, all of the above are purely illogical. If parents are concerned about the legitimacy of vaccines, medical records and scientific advancements establish plenty of credibility toward injections. If parents are scared that a shot will hurt their child … well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but so can a splinter received from playing on a swing set, or a bruise from getting hit by a ball. To parents who think that a vaccine may cause their child to catch the measles, the chances of them catching this disease through a measles party has to be greater. Moreover, if, hypothetically speaking, the child did grow ill from the shot, at least he or she would be under the care of a physician.
The discussions about these alleged measles parties today says a lot about where society stands in relation to the medical world. On one hand, the outcries in response to measles parties show strong common sense, faith in scientific advancements and desire to protect America’s population. On the other hand, the fact that talk of these parties surfaced in the first place demonstrates that people still have a long way to go in trusting doctors and adapting to today’s medical innovations. Come on, it’s 2015 already. It is time to bury 20-year-old traditions in the past and embrace the new advancements of the world today.