Most people don’t pay much attention to measles anymore. However, in ancient times it was a deadly disease. It is believed that measles began as a disease that dogs get called distemper. Because people lived with dogs, at some point it began to attack people too. Measles is a virus and needs a big population to survive so it probably started around 2000 BC in West Asia when people started to live in cities. Now, fast forward to the 1500ʼs AD in North and South America; European traders and explorers brought measles with them and because nobody in America had ever had measles before nobody had any resistance to it. Measles along with Smallpox together killed nine out of every 10 people living in North and South America. In the 1950ʼs, John Enders of Boston succeeded in making a vaccination against measles. By the 1960ʼs almost every child in North America and Europe was vaccinated against measles. By1999 about 100 cases of measles were reported. Smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases ever known. In 1967 the World Health Organization declared war on smallpox with an intensive, worldwide vaccination campaign. In twelve years smallpox was wiped out, gone forever. Parents in the 1950ʼs were horrified as polio paralyzed children by the thousands. In the 1960ʼs the Salk and Sabin vaccines were discovered. In 2011 the fight against polio is almost won and soon will join smallpox as gone from the face of the earth.
With the passage of health care reform, all routine well care checkups for children are covered 100% by health plans if you have one. It does not matter if you have a high deductible health plan as long as your health insurance premiums are paid.
So, how do these disease busting vaccines work? According to MedicineNet.com “When you get sick your body is invaded by germs. When measles virus enters your body it gives you measles.” Once you are sick your body will respond by making antibodies. The antibodies will destroy the germs and help you to get well. The antibodies remain in your bloodstream. That’s why you have probably heard the expression “once you have the chicken pox you can never get them again.” That’s because the antibodies protect you from the disease. The only problem with this system is that you have to get sick before you get the antibodies and develop immunity. Vaccination, by giving you a tiny part of the disease, gives you immunity to a disease before it has a chance to make you sick. The vaccine is made from the same germs that made the disease, just weakened so it won’t make you sick. Usually the vaccine will be given to your child by shot and his/her immune system reacts to the vaccine the same as it would if it were being invaded by the disease- by making antibodies.