We want the world for our children. Most importantly, we want to keep them safe. Imagine if a choice you made in the name of your child's safety led to the opposite. It's a horrifying thought.
Some parents choose not to vaccinate their children, and this can lead to disease outbreaks. On January 29, 2019, public health officials in Washington declared a state-wide emergency because of an ongoing measles outbreak, which started in Clark County, Washington. The outbreak has already spread to other states. Clark County records indicate that only 77% of children entering kindergarten had been vaccinated against measles.
Measles, or rubeola, is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus. 90 percent of people exposed to the virus will be infected - if you are susceptible to the disease. Susceptibility means, in almost all cases, that the person has not been vaccinated. In Clark County, there was a higher than usual number of unvaccinated children.
Measles’ normal symptoms include a fever, conjunctivitis, fatigue, muscle pain, and a severe rash. Measles has other consequences, too. Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, can cause weakness, personality changes, and seizures. 1 in every 1000 cases of measles will result in encephalitis. However, measles can also kill, and the rates are about 1 death in every 500 to 1000 cases of the disease.
If an unvaccinated child is exposed to the measles, there is a 9 out of 10 chance that they will be infected. If infected, there is - at best - a 1 in 1000 chance that they will die. Yet, some people choose not to vaccinate their children for fear of what the vaccine might do. So, do we know if vaccines are safe? And how do we know?
DO WE KNOW VACCINES ARE SAFE?
In the 1980s, Congress passed a law, called the National Childhood Vaccination Injury Act of 1986, that included a vaccine monitoring program. That monitoring program is called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (or VAERS) that led to a widespread capture of information all over the country about the potential side effects of vaccines. That has led to an amount of data that is practically unheard of in science.
Based on the massive amount of VAERS data about the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine, the common side effects include a sore arm from the shot, a fever, a mild rash, or temporary pain in the joints. That data, plus a further scientific study, also suggested that there is an increased risk of febrile (or fever-related) seizures. This occurs once in every 2500 vaccinations, and there have been no long-term effects from the seizures.
Additionally, if you are allergic to a component of any vaccine, you may have an allergic reaction. There are other potential side effects, but they are so incredibly rare, that we can’t be certain that they weren’t caused by some other factor.
So, from decades of experience with the MMR vaccine, we know that vaccination can keep people safe from a potentially deadly disease. We also know from decades of data all over the country that the MMR vaccine has minimal common side effects, and the more serious side effects linked with the vaccine have no long-term consequences. If safety is your concern, then vaccination is a better bet.
WHAT IF THE VACCINE DOES CAUSE INJURY?
The law that created VAERS, however, also created a program to compensate anyone who might have been injured by any vaccine, called the vaccine injury compensation program (VICP). If, for any reason, you think that you or a loved one have been injured by a vaccine, you should contact an attorney experienced with the VICP. The attorneys at Rawls Law Group are experienced with the VICP and they can help you navigate the program and ensure that you obtain the compensation you deserve.