Back in the 1980s parents would have their children that were infected with chicken pox purposely infect uninfected children. The chicken pox vaccine was licensed for use in the United States in 1995. Yet, some parents are still skeptical of vaccines and choose to intentionally infect their children as a way to get the disease out of the way.
Several parents in the San Francisco Bay Area community of Marin County have joined in the ranks of many in the Los Angeles area, and opted out of vaccinating their children due to “personal beliefs.” This science- and fact-denying has led to the most measles cases since 1995 and the most whooping cough cases since 1947.
In addition to denying decades of research, they are also staring into the faces of compromised children like Rhett Krawitt–who has leukemia and cannot be vaccinated–and who could very well face death because of these parents’ inability to reason.
California news station KQED recently shared an interview with Marin County resident, home-schooler and anti-vaxxer, Julie Schiffman. In the interview, KQED asks Schiffman Schiffman about rumored “Measles Parties” taking place in Marin County:
Julie Schiffman is a mother of two in Marin County. The choice to not vaccinate her kids, now 6 and 8, was a long and difficult one, she said. But deciding whether to intentionally expose them to measles was easy.
“I would never do that to my kid,” she said.
She was approached recently by a friend who knew her kids were unvaccinated. The friend offered to help set up a play date with another child who was sick.
“She said, ‘I know someone who has the measles, would you like to be connected with them?’” Schiffman said.
Measles parties and chicken pox parties are practices that developed in eras before vaccines for those diseases were available. Both viruses are known to cause greater, more dangerous complications in adults. So some parents would intentionally infect their kids when they were young to work through the illness in its milder form, then retain immunity.
Julie Schiffman says she and her husband are willing to reconsider vaccinating their kids, but no evidence has surfaced to change their minds yet. She says she respects the choice of other parents who decide to expose their unvaccinated kids to measles. But she and her husband declined the opportunity.
“I would want that to be something they decide on their own, when they’re older and are more capable of assessing the risks and dangers,” she says.
“When they’re teenagers, I’d say, ‘okay, you have a choice, you can get vaccinated or you can get the measles, what would you rather?’” she said. “Then they have more say over what they do with their bodies. And I would respect their choice, whatever it was.”
You can hear the interview here:[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189791419″]
Marin County Public Health Official, Matt Willis, says, “Measles is a serious illness that can cause brain swelling, long-term neurological effects and even death. There is no evidence that immunity gained through becoming sick with measles is any better than vaccine-imparted immunity. Any parents who are considering this, they should have a look at a child who’s really sick with measles, and I think they’d change their minds.”
Never to be the ones to miss out on a some “clickbait journalism,” several Fox “News” outlets reported that the measles parties were in fact happening–although there is no evidence to support that.
I’m not sure if it’s because of the Snopes post that debunks their “reporting,” but at least one of their affiliates, myFoxDC, has removed the false story and some of them, like myFoxAustin, is reporting that there is no basis to support the claim of the measles parties, despite having previously run with the story.
Featured image courtesy of Orlando Sentinel.