Higgledy piggledy Wiggledy wump, I met a man Who caught a mump: With his left cheek lumpy And his right cheek bumpy – Higgledy piggledy Wiggledy wump.
Higgledy piggledy Sniggledy sneezle, I met a man Who caught a measle: With his chest all dots And his face all spots – Higgledgy piggledy Sniggledy sneezle.
– Alligator Pie, Dennis Lee, 1939
I read this book to the kids the other night. My daughter loves the illustrations and this one in particular. She asked me what a mump and measle was. I explained that they were illnesses caused by germs (viruses) but that most of us don’t get them anymore because of vaccines. She kind of understands what vaccines are, I explained how it’s a needle that she gets that protects her from illnesses like the one described in the story. She seemed satisfied with that, so we continued reading the book.
But my mind stayed on Higgledy Piggledy, primarily because of the news recently. There have been outbreaks of measles in a few Canadian cities, mostly in communities where the vaccination rates are frighteningly low. In the nation’s capital, Ottawa, a young boy contracted measles after returning from the Philippines, a trip he took with his parents. The child wasn’t vaccinated. Upon returning home, he became ill and went to not one, not two, but three different walk-in clinics (including an emergency room) before getting diagnosed. Meanwhile, the child was infecting his classmates at school, not to mention a potentially vulnerable population in the ER. Within a few weeks, another four cases were confirmed. Another outbreak is also happening in British Columbia.
I’ve written a lot about vaccines. I’m not going to belabor the point, I believe vaccines work and I believe they are safe. I don’t believe they cause autism and I believe that, in the end, after all is said and done, vaccines save lives.
Back in 1939, Dennis Lee was born. Decades later he wrote a poem about mumps and measles. He likely had the illnesses as a child. He probably recovered. Not everyone he knew would have been that lucky.
Day 12. This is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, writing a post everyday. I actually look forward to it!
And, yes, I’m back, despite my little rant yesterday, which in case you missed it, you can read here.
What’s on my mind today? Vaccines. I know, I know, it’s a volatile topic and I’ve discussed it before, but you see, the baby is 8 weeks old today (my goodness, when did that happen?) and he will be going for his first set of vaccinations next week. For me, it’s a no-brainer that he will be vaccinated. All of my kids were vaccinated. I didn’t even give it a second thought. Now, that’s probably because I am a physician and a rational, logical human being. Okay, that last part was a bit of a dig. I am just so sick and tired of parents thinking that just because they’ve done their “research” on vaccines (ie. have read about Wakefield, everything that Jenny McCarthy has to say on the subject, and discussed it with their “friends” on countless message boards), does not mean that they understand the science and study behind creating a vaccine. These parents haven’t seen the devastation that Polio caused, they haven’t seen what congenital Rubella syndrome looks like, nor have they had to tell their son that they may never be able to father children because the Mumps caused orchitis and has the potential to limit his fertility. And let’s not forget the risks of meningitis from certain strains of pneumococcal pneumonia, Measles, and rarely, chicken pox.
I was a resident in family medicine working on the Pediatric ward when a 15 month old girl was admitted with seizures. She had been diagnosed with pneumonia 2 days earlier. Blood cultures revealed a particular strain of bacterial pneumonia. This strain is one that is covered by a vaccination available here, called Prevnar-13. A review of this child’s medical records showed that her parents declined all vaccinations. The seizures were eventually controlled, she was diagnosed with encephalitis and a few weeks later was found to be completely deaf. Totally preventable had she only been vaccinated as an infant.
At least once every few weeks I see a news article about an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable illness.
It’s becoming so common these days, it’s actually starting to scare me a little bit. If we continue down this path of non-vaccination, herd immunity is going to fail. We will see the resurgence of illnesses we haven’t seen in twenty or thirty years. I have never seen a case of measles but I’m sure one day, at this rate, I will.