When I was a young girl I contracted the mumps. I remember being gently teased by my Dad that I looked like a chipmunk with my swollen cheeks. That is the only fond thing I remember about having it—the other is the pain; a lot of pain. And there was nothing funny about the pain.
Many years later, when it came time to immunize my own children, I didn’t give it a second thought. I couldn’t imagine putting them through that, or through any of the vaccine preventable illnesses covered by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's publicly funded immunization schedule. While giving the loves of my life a needle caused more tears from me than from them, I knew the alternative of them getting sick from something I could have prevented would have been much worse.
I admit that I am perplexed and saddened by our current debate on vaccinations, particularly since they have been proven to be safe and wildly effective at preventing illness for over 50 years now.
Between 1950 to 1954, prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine, the peak annual number of measles cases in Canada was 61,370. Based on our population growth and rampant urbanization since that time, the numbers would be significantly higher today if a vaccine had not been developed. Instead, from 2007 to 2011 there was only a peak annual number of 752 measles cases in Canada. That’s over a 98% decrease in pre-vaccine measles rates. The numbers are similar or better for all the vaccinations currently supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Perhaps most encouraging is that polio has effectively been eradicated. This awful disease left thousands of children paralyzed before an effective vaccination was found, but it has now been wiped off the map - at least inside of Canada. How sad that this is not the case in other countries.
My heart breaks when I look at some of the data from countries that do not have a medical system like ours:
These facts are a scary reality for so many worldwide, which is why I am forever grateful we live where we do.
Knowing that there are countless mothers around the world who wish they could vaccinate their children, I would never dream of not vaccinating mine.
Getting your family immunized is an important part of creating a foundation for a healthy life. If you’re on the fence about immunizing, here’s information you need to make an informed decision for your family.