When did mumps become a laughing matter? Last time I checked the disease is associated with significant pain and serious complications can occur. A few days ago someone uploaded The Great Mumps Scandal of Schull on Urban Dictionary, about the recent mumps outbreak in West Cork, as if it’s a big joke. Wt actual f?
On Monday I received a text from my son’s secondary school saying there was “a confirmed case” of mumps. A link to the HSE website’s Frequently Asked Questions was attached, which provides information about the potentially serious illness. Today I spoke with someone at the school to voice my concerns. I was told 3 cases have been confirmed, but I suspect the whole thing is being down played. My son knows of at least 7 students with confirmed cases. Not every parent is broadcasting to the community that their unvaccinated teenager has mumps.
What worries me is that the vaccine isn’t as effective as I previously thought. In order to achieve herd immunity, 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated, and Ireland falls below that.
One dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, 78% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The school’s receptionist tried to reassure me, saying that vaccinated children will only have a mild case if they contract the illness. I pointed out that one fully vaccinated 18 year old we know is suffering a lot and has lock jaw. Her case is far from “mild.” Her mother certainly doesn’t find the situation funny. Like her, I fail to see any humor about the outbreak.
Deafness, though rare, affects 1 in 20,000 people with mumps. My son has had unilateral hearing loss since he was 11. Doctors can’t say for certain why he became deaf in one ear, but they suspect it was due to a virus. Something might be “rare,” but believe me, when it happens to your child it’s terribly real. I phoned my GP but the line was engaged all morning. I will take her advice as to when she thinks it’s safe for my son to return to school. I’m not taking chances on his health or his hearing.
We are in the midst of The Biggest Mumps Outbreak In A Decade according to the Irish Times. In some parts of the country mumps cases increased by nearly 600% last year. The reemergence of the disease is due to the decrease in vaccinations. Some parents still believe the debunked theories about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor, continues to perpetuate his ideas online, despite being discredited for his now retracted study published in 1998.
My oldest son was born in 1998. I remember the fear, the panic when rumors about Wakefield’s report began. As a result I chose to delay the MMR, but made sure he had it before he hit puberty. I understand that there can be side effects to vaccines and that it can be a difficult decision for parents. I also think the risks need to be assessed. The diseases we’re trying to eradicate are far more harmful than the vaccines. My uncle spent his life in a wheelchair because he contracted polio as a child. Do we really want to go back to living with these diseases as a real threat? I certainly don’t. Needless to say my youngest child received all of his shots on schedule. Logic, rather than fear, must prevail.
Vaccination isn’t all about a personal choice. It’s about protecting the population.Dr Elizabeth Ryan, UL Immunologist
People often assume I’m an anti-vaxxer because I otherwise embrace natural living. It’s true that I used cloth nappies for 2 of my children, advocate extended breastfeeding, practice co-sleeping, have had 2 homebirths, and value holistic medicine. Some people might describe my partner and me as hippies, but I don’t like labels or conforming to any group code.
We have family members who are very vocal about the perils of vaccines on social media, and we have both had Facebook arguments on the subject. (Yeah… that old rabbit hole…) In 2019 140,000 people died of measles worldwide. When a measles epidemic killed 39 people in Samoa last year, one family member suggested it was because the Somoan children didn’t have access to the correct vitamins. Crazy as it sounds, she is a smart, articulate woman, possessing a college degree, dedicated to her cause. Every day she posts link after link from anti-vaccine websites, although the HSE is supposedly “monitoring anti-vaxxer comments on social media.” Vaccine hesitancy was among the top 10 threats to health last year. The World Health Organisation posted a list this week of Urgent Health Challenges for the next decade. Stopping infectious diseases is among the list of urgent issues.
Some of our friends and family blame greedy Big Pharma. They think vaccines are simply a means for someone to profit. Being somewhat anti-establishment, they don’t trust conventional medicine or doctors (until a surgery is needed due to disease or an accident, or someone ends up unexpectedly in intensive care with a mysterious, life threatening illness. True story). No one ever talks about or scrutinizes the Big Wellness industry.
Read about how Joseph Mercola, a major funder of the anti-vaccine movement, has made millions selling vitamins in addition to other natural health products here. While the National Vaccine Information Center does not sell or advertise Mercola’s products on its site, they do display his company’s logo on their homepage. Is it coincidence that he profits from selling the vitamins which they claim are a safe and effective alternative to vaccines?
What do you think? Some states and countries are making vaccinations mandatory. Is that a violation of our parental and human rights, or do parents have a responsibility to protect the population as Dr. Ryan suggests? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your views.
* After Note: My son informed me that the Scandal of Schull is satire. He thought it was funny. Apparently my generation doesn’t get things like the Urban Dictionary. LOL… I stand corrected by my 17 year old. It’s surprising someone as old as me knows how to use the internet at all…
Featured Photo by CDC