Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy, ” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.
That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness.
Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.
In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.
Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another.
At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections.
About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about?
It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945, in New Mexico—home to 19 American Indian pueblos, two Apache tribes and some chapters of the Navajo Nation. Manhattan Project scientists exploded the device containing six kilograms of plutonium 239 on a 100-foot tower at the Trinity Site in the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) Valley at what is now the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range. The blast was the equivalent of 21 kilotons of TNT. At the time an estimated 19,000 people lived within a 50-mile radius.
…The government briefly monitored the radiation levels at several sites near the blast with the relatively crude instruments that were available at the time and according to the extremely lax standards of the time. ”So they detonate the bomb at Trinity and they leave,” said Cordova, a cancer survivor. “They never come back and tell the people to take care of how they live, what they consume, what they eat, drink. Nothing.”…Nowadays the United States Environmental Protection Agency readily acknowledges on its website the likely effects associated with long-term or chronic low-level radiation exposure. The longer the exposure the more likely that cancer and other illnesses will occur, according to the EPA’s website.
However, this is in hindsight prompted in part by what happened to the Navajo and other American Indians after the test blast. In New Mexico, American Indians would begin to experience many types of cancers—rare cancers as well as multiple primary cancers. Cordova said that her father, who was three years old at the time of the test, had two oral cancers and one gastric cancer, none of them the result of metastasis. He never smoked or drank.
"At one time I could name ten people who had brain tumors,” said Cordova, who grew up in Tularosa. “The town I grew up in is probably about 3,500 people. The normal incidence of brain tumors in the [general] population is about one in 5,000. So that gives you some idea on the incidence of these things. Brain tumors are associated with radiation exposure."