Two deadly diseases
Measles and the flu have been two popular topics in our local news.
Oddly enough, my husband has a connection to both these viral epidemics!
Since January, our state (Washington) has been dealing with a measles outbreak. It began when an unvaccinated adult returned from overseas, unknowingly infected with the measles. This person went to many public places and exposed countless individuals to the virus.
One place was a Portland Trailblazers game in Portland, OR. My husband happened to be at that game, so he took notice when local public health departments began warning people about the risk of exposure.
Of course, he is up-to-date with all his vaccinations, measles included, and wasn’t concerned about getting the disease.
Others weren’t so fortunate.
Almost 75 people in Washington have been diagnosed with measles so far, more than half are children under the age of 10.
Luckily, no one has died. But as I said in an earlier post about this epidemic, even if measles doesn’t kill you, it can make you very sick and cause lasting health problems.
Washington has one of the highest vaccination opt-out rates in the country, which is why the virus has been able to spread.
It’s really sad and scary. Not only do we health professionals hate to see small children get really sick or die (especially when it can be prevented!), but we know those unvaccinated kids can give the disease to infants who are too young to be vaccinated, or to people with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients.
Vaccines are necessary because they not only keep you safe, but protect others as well.
A late flu peak
Influenza or flu is the other virus in the news.
We thought flu cases had peaked in late December, which is pretty typical. But over the last month there has been a huge increase in cases, making this a really long and late flu season.
Our local public health department is still encouraging anyone not vaccinated to get the flu shot.
Not that the vaccine is 100% effective.
My husband and I get our flu shots every fall. Two years ago I still got the flu, and last week my husband got sick, too.
He blames it on the plane ride coming home from our vacation. We sat behind a young child who was obviously very sick and coughing his poor little lungs out. I had my hand sanitizer out in a flash (I always have it on a plane because planes are just filthy), but it wasn’t enough to protect the hubby.
His temperature reached 102°F and he had the telltale headache, achy muscles, and hacking cough.
⇒Getting a flu shot is still useful, though, because it shortens the duration of illness and prevents a more serious case.
Was that child on the plane immunized? I don’t know. But anyone who doesn’t get the flu shot and gets the flu will surely spread the disease to others. And like the measles, the flu can kill or at least make someone really sick. Especially young children, or anyone with a weak immune system or chronic health problems.
So again, vaccines are necessary because they protect you from dying of a crummy viral illness, and prevent you from spreading a lethal disease to others.
It’s called herd immunity. Let’s work together to stay healthy. 😊
And if you’re sick, please stay home!
For more information, I have a list of vaccine-related resources on my Resources page.