Choose Wisely: Excellent Healthcare Information For You
INTERESTING STUFF – 7 February 2015

Elders Recall Life Before Immunization

UPDATE 9AM: This is fantastic, all your stories collecting in the comments below - so many already at 9AM. Keep them coming. We can quote statistics all day long, but stories are powerful persuaders; they make a difference.


See that state over there on the left, the single one that is red? That's where I live these days, Oregon, and the color does not reflect political affiliation.

It is red because in 2014, Oregon was estimated to have both the highest percentage and the highest number of unvaccinated school children of all 50 U.S. states. That would be 7.1 percent or 3,331 exemptions for religious reasons and 62 for medical reasons.

(To see other states' numbers, click here.)

Measles was declared eradicated in the United States in the year 2000 so it is staggering to follow the current “debate” over measles (and other disease) immunizations – particularly, I think, if you are old like me. But first, let me digress.

The looniness of the anti-vaccination crowd is astounding – some of them are even physicians, even physicians who want to be president like Dr. Ben Carson and opthalmologist, Senator Rand Paul.

But the anti-vaxxers are not all conservatives like those two; many are liberals. Politically, vaccine denial is an equal opportunity insanity and tolerating them for more than a second endangers the health – even the lives - of the entire country.

I'm not going to explain the origin of the anti-vaccine movement. You can find that and all their crazy arguments – from quasi-medical to religious to political - all over the internet.

Instead, let me give you just one comparison fact then I will get to why I'm flogging the anti-vaccine stupidity today.

According to Centers for Disease Control quoted in Wikipedia, the death rate for measles infection is 2 in 1,000 cases. Encephalitis occurs from measles infection at a rate of 1 in 1,000 cases. And pneumonia occurs in 6 of 100 cases.

The measles immunization shot is called MMR for “measles, mumps, rubella.” The complication rate for MMR immunization is 1 in 1,000,000 injections.

“Debate” over.

If you are older than about 55 or 60, you can recall a childhood filled with terrifying diseases: diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, rubella, chickenpox, smallpox, scarlet fever, polio and others that until the current madness, we had almost forgotten. Let me remind you.

Smallpox scars on school mates' faces were common.

I was required to remain in bed with shades drawn and no reading allowed during my bout with measles because it can cause blindness (although I don't know why a dark room would prevent that).

Quarantine notices were posted on the homes where some kids were sick (I've forgotten which diseases). They were so contagious we weren't allowed to go near them.

Sometimes we heard that a kid had died from one of the diseases.

Every fall, one or two school mates didn't return to school due to polio. Some of them died. A few eventually returned to school wearing huge braces on one or both legs.

These diseases are now preventable.

Personally, I believe the government should mandate universal vaccination for the general welfare of the public. Isn't that what government should be for, the public good?

Remember, in the 1950s, when the government innoculated the entire country – every single person – against polio? In my town, everyone lined up at one of the local schools where we were each handed a sugar cube to eat.

You haven't heard much about polio since then and how is that not a vast public good?

Most people who read this blog are old enough to recall life when those childhood diseases ran rampant. So spend some time, if you will, in comments today, telling us your recollections of those days gone by. Maybe some younger parents sitting on the fence about vaccines will read them.

As for Oregon, perhaps immunization rates are about to get better. On Wednesday, The Oregonian reported:

”By state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start programs and certified child care facilities must have up-to-date vaccinations by Feb. 18 or have an exemption.”

Of course, that raises the obvious question of why any kids are in school now without those documents, a crucial bit of information left out of the news story. (I'll undoubtedly take flak from Oregonians for saying this but living here leaves one weeping daily for lack of competent news reporting.)

One of the many things that amuse me about Jon Stewart on The Daily Show is the number of ways he can find to digress from whatever topic he is discussing.

Earlier this week he digressed about 10 times in 10 different directions in his coverage of the vaccine “controversy” – of course, hilariously - while making his serious points. Take a look.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today is – nothing. No story. It is on hiatus for two weeks. Please read more here.


According to my late mother, I had measles three times, one of them German measles. I do
remember having chicken pox. And when I was 21 and commuting by bus to the university for a summer class
in German, I wound up with mumps. My face was swollen on both sides and I had to mash a banana to squeeze it between my lips. I missed two
days of class and 8 tenses. The old school German professor did not consider I had a valid reason for absence.

I do remember the threat and dread of polio every year.
When the polio and other vaccines became available, I got them. I also got the tetanus shot, the pneumonia shot and get a flu shot every year. My doctor has not yet persuaded me about a shingles shot.

Measles, mumps, chicken pox...All were considered common diseases of childhood that went through the neighborhood every few years. We also had two polio cases on my block alone. Public pools closed. I remember getting polio shots and later the Sabin on Sunday sugar cubes against polio.

Why did America rise up with such vitriol against Ebola last year and there is nary a murmur about these unvaccinated children? It has even been claimed that it is un-American to have a law requiring vaccination. A family member suggested it had to do with the country of origin of the respective diseases.

Our family certainly suffered the effects of measles in the 1930s and 1940s: Grandmother had measles while pregnant with my uncle who had physical and intellectual developmental problems, and my younger sister had measles (as did Elder Brother and I) which led into scarlet fever (as it did for Elder Brother) which led to her death from pneumonia (pre-penicillin days). Since I had measles 74 years ago, I need to check whether I need a vaccination.

BTW: I'm thinking that the whole-community sugar cube distributions were in the 1960s since we took at least one daughter with us to stand in line. The Sabin live vaccine was licensed in 1962 - the year our 2nd daughter was born. Ronni's community may have been part of a trial in the 1950s. Millions of doses were administered in the USSR in 1959. Two Vaccines

Every year there was an outbreak of measles, mumps, and/or chicken pox.

I, who moved around a lot, missed the Mumps and Chickenpox, but got Measles 3 times (each time in a different school population and all before 11 yrs old.

While there are complications in children with each of these communicable diseases and deaths do occur, we were made to understand that adults would have a more difficult time and more severe consequences.

Hearing loss was said to be a problem with measles and male adults were warned that mumps could cause sterility. (At least that is my memory--I could have some of that confused.)

When I was 50 yrs. old, I flew to NY on a business trip. A week after I got home, I was at home, in bed for the most part, with Chickenpox.

Some people, take their babies to the homes of school children who have measles, so they will be immune and not have to have the shots. Go figure.

In 1954 Polio struck my neighborhood--my next door neighbor had a light case, just a fever.

The day before he was diagnosed, I had ridden my bike to my half-sister's home and brought my nephew to our neighborhood to play.

I took him home well before dark and the next day,
we got a phone call that he was paralyized from the waist down with Polio.

It was a few years before we were given the Saulk vaccine.

My nephew's family moved to Arizona on the advise of their family physician. He, nephew, became a math whiz and credited me as the one who taught him his numbers. (I am very poor mathematics.)

He is married and a world-wide traveller, just recently he got a new wheelchair especially made for playing tennis, which is his sport of choice.

Cop Car: you're probably right about the years. I'm guessing from where I lived then in California and got the sugar cubes and I lived there through about 1963 so it very well could have been the early 1960s.

I got most of the childhood diseases - measles, German measles, mumps, chicken pox - while living in New York in Westchester County in the late 1940s and early 50s. When our family moved to northern Illinois in the mid-1950s, I remember getting the polio vaccine in two forms: one was a shot and one was a sugar cube. As an adult, I have received the pneumonia vaccine, the Shingles vaccine, and many immunizations against Hepatitus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and I can't think what else because I have traveled a lot. I have never become ill from any of these shots. The only shot that affects me badly is the tetanus shot, which hurts like a son of a gun for about a week. I can't understand the motivations of people who don't get immunized. It is a public health issue, to me.

Whenever I got sick as a kid, my father would ask what I wanted him to bring home from work as a special treat. Invariably, I asked for candy. But when I got the mumps, I asked him for cashew nuts, a rare luxury in our home. He protested it would be difficult for me to chew them but I insisted, and that is what he brought me. I recall being awake in the middle of the night, my jaws too painful for me to sleep, while my father sat up alongside me, reading aloud a Little Lulu comic book while I painfully, slowly, savored those treasured cashew nuts. The pain was worth it.

I had all the childhood diseases in the early '40s (including scarlet fever, when I was quarantined and my father visited me through my first-floor bedroom window), but for some reason didn't get chicken pox until I was in college -- and was very sick. I thank goodness most of these have been conquered -- until now.

I'm for getting tough with the anti-vaxxers and eliminating exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons. Their stupidity endangers too many others, and for what?

You've reminded me that when I had the mumps, stuck in bed, my father brought lunch into me - a gigantically tall "Dagwood" sandwich.

There was no way I could open my mouth wide enough to eat it. What was he thinking?

I remember when my kids had measles. My 3 child was so sick I didn't think he would live through it. Thankfully, by the time kids number 4 & 5 came along there were vaccines for measles, etc.

Which type measles is the current outbreak? I seem to remember there is one version that is really, really bad for pregnant women.

On a personal note. My mother always talked about me having measles and scarlet fever before I was 1 or 2. I had many bouts with strep throat all my life. And as an adult really bad RA. If I could I would show my cripple old body to anyone who refuses to get their kids vaccinated and warn them what might happen as an adult.

Living and growing up in NYC in the late 40s, I had many of the childhood diseases: measles, German measles, (not Mumps). But the worst was contracting Bulbar polio as a toddler. I remember very clearly being in the hospital with the disease, which paralyzes the throat, making it impossible to swallow. The doctors told my parents to expect the worse: it would more than likely be fatal. But, miraculously, I recovered, and it turns out that is how that particular form of polio goes--either fatal or it dissipates. I was lucky, although there are some signs of waht is called post-polio in my having a little difficulty swallowing from time to time. A very close friend and colleague also had the disease. She was forced to wear a brace for many years, until she managed to train herself to walk without one, but with a very serious limp. She passed away last year, at the age of 72, from a major cardiac problem, the result of many years of stress on her body from her early childhood disease. I continued to live in NYC until the mid-70s and always made certain my children were immunized, not only for their own health, but because one has an obligation as a member of the community, to be concerned not to harm others. When I read about the stories of those whose children can be immunized, but choose not to have them given the immunizations, I can only think, how ignorant and selfish they are.

I knew children who got polio and have elder friends still living with the consequences of that disease.

I was in the hospital this December and had a nurse who had refused vaccines and told me she wasn't coming back in my room because she didn't want to catch it!? Why in the hell is she allowed to work among the sick in a hospital, I don't want whatever she is carrying either. I am writing a letter. By the way she did come back suited up, gloved and masked. But ebola has shown us that suiting up doesn't always work.

I too healed from measles in a dark room. Got chicken pox as well and that, a herpes virus, lives on in the body making it possible for us to suffer from shingles. Must better to vaccinate and never get the pox or shingles. Yikes! Then there's the pneumonia vaccine that has kept many elders from a nasty death.

I don't get the anti-vaccine people at all. Ignorant, stupid, both? I recall when seat belts came out there was an anti-seat belt contingent as well, and anti-helmet. But lack of vaccinations hurts and kills them, their children and other people.

Oops! Sorry, got excited and spelled my own name wrong. ;-) not Celai, but me Celia.

When my brother came down with scarlet fever, our house was quarantined. My father and I weren't allowed to go into his room, which was closed off with a blanket across the door to keep infection-laden air from circulating.

My mother nursed him. She wasn't a qualified nurse. She'd been a teacher before she was married, but nursing sick children was considered to be part of a mother's job. Cool cloths to fight the fever.

The doctor came every day to check on him. When he started to get better, all his fingernails and toenails fell out, which I thought was at the same time gruesomely horrifying and a bit awesome. Like, you could brag about that! I don't know that he ever did brag, though.

We got measles at the same time, so that time my mother was nursing us both. Yes, darkened room. Horrible headache, hurting all over, very strange delirious fever dreams that I still remember.

And it was just part of normal childhood. There wasn't any way to avoid it. People actually hoped their kids would contract mumps, because that was the only way to acquire immunity, then, and it was usually fairly mild for children, and terrible for adults.

But, measles. Being sick with measles is a horrible experience, even for those who don't have complications, or even die of it. I can't imagine why anyone would want their kids to go through measles when a simple immunization would prevent it!

But, of course... they're not thinking of it that way. They're relying on all those other people who ARE immune, to be uninfected and therefore not transmitting the disease. Odd thing about herd immunity, though is that if enough people are allowed to rely on it, it stops working. There are a few people who really can't be immunized because of allergies or other vulnerabilities. Herd immunity needs to be reserved as a protection for those people.

As for those who are spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about vaccines...? If they are allowed to win enough supporters, if government is too scared of them to step in, they are going to be guilty of manslaughter.

I had several of the "childhood" diseases but got mumps while in the Navy in my early 30s. It was no joke and didn't only cause problems with my throat.
No one has mentioned the "iron lungs" that I remember being used when I was a kid.

Keith, I remember "iron lungs" very well. One of my brother-in-laws had polio has a kid. He lived in one for over 35-40 years. He was in the local hospital polio ward for a few years, not sure how many. The rest of his life, he was taken care of by family. I met him when I was 16 and about to marry his older brother.

Looking back on a graph at the CDC is interesting. Seems to me they should have perhaps put more concern to vaccination before this year......Here is some factual information from the CDC. Perhaps having people coming into the country show proof of measles vaccination would help alleviate what appears to be a portion of the problem.

Measles Outbreaks

Outbreaks in countries to which Americans often travel can directly contribute to an increase in measles cases in the U.S.

Reasons for an increase in cases some years:

2015: The majority of cases reported so far during 2015 are part of a large, ongoing outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.
2014: The U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks in 2014, including one large outbreak of 383 cases, occurring primarily among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines, which experienced a large measles outbreak. For more information see the Measles in the Philippines Travelers' Health Notice.
2013: The U.S. experienced 11 outbreaks in 2013, three of which had more than 20 cases, including an outbreak with 58 cases. For more information see Measles — United States, January 1-August 24, 2013.
2011: In 2011, more than 30 countries in the WHO European Region reported an increase in measles, and France was experiencing a large outbreak. Most of the cases that were brought to the U.S. in 2011 came from France. For more information see Measles — United States, January-May 20, 2011.
2008: The increase in cases in 2008 was the result of spread in communities with groups of unvaccinated people. The U.S. experienced several outbreaks in 2008 including three large outbreaks. For more CDC information see Update: Measles — United States, January–July 2008.

See also: The Surveillance Manual chapter on measles that describes case investigation, outbreak investigation, and outbreak control for additional information.

As an 80-year-old, I remember all too clearly those kid diseases. Measles? Yeah, the 3-day kind and the 21-day kind. Got 'em both. The darkened room prevented me from reading, an added punishment.

I was 17 when Chicken Pox showed up. Wow, was I sick.

Because of the chicken pox, as soon as the shingles vaccine came out, I was at the head of the line to get it - even before Medicare made it eligible for reimbursement. (I'm pretty darn chicken when it comes to pain.)

Today's parents are several generations removed from the really difficult problems from these diseases of 'our' childhood.

Sadly, some of them will be learning the hard way of the consequences of inaction.

I don't recall much about my childhood illnesses or immunizations (being a doctor's kid, though, I'm sure I was given every vaccine as soon as it became available). I do remember being hospitalized twice with pneumonia. And being allowed to lie on a cot in the backyard on sunny days to recover from something. And being kept indoors in the summer when polio was raging. I know I had chicken pox because I've had shingles twice. All I can say is if you haven't gotten all available vaccines, including both pneumonia vaccines, the shingles vaccine, and a flu shot every year, you're taking a big risk.

I too had bulbar polio at 3 years of age in 1946. I remember clearly being in isolation at the hospital for 2 weeks. I remember so well the awful pain from spinal tap as if it was yesterday. I too recovered and also have a slight problem swallowing when very stressed. I had all the childhood diseases, a particularly bad time with measels, in the dark terrified I would go blind. Chicken pox made me suseptable to cold sores that came out during stress times also. When I was 18 in 1959, I had so many occurrances - I kept catching it from myself - I went to the Doctor and he gave me a series of small pox shots and the hugh cold sores around my mouth and nose went away. I forgot about it until about 10 years later. When I was around 28 years old the cold sores started to reoccur so I went back to the Doctor and he gave me another round of small pox vaccinations. I lasted another 10 years and by then at 38 years of age in 1981, small pox had been virtually eraticated and there was no more vaccinations available. I now have minor occurances and I use an OTC medication that keeps it at bay. You have to be nutz not to give your children vaccinations and it should be against the law not to protect your children and the world at large.

I must have had measles in the early fifties, because I remember I was not allowed to watch TV because it was thought to hurt our eyes. Years after that my mom told me that my sister and I were the sickest we had ever been. I had chicken pox when I was quite young, and mumps later.

I do remember kids who had polio related disabilities, and even as a young kid I remember the constant public warnings about polio in the spring. I also remember lining up for polio shots, at least twice, or maybe once at the doctor's office.

As soon as the shingles shot became available, I paid $200 to get it. And I get whatever vaccinations I need now. Like others here, I don't get why others don't vaccinate.

If you had chicken pox, you almost certainly want to get the shingles shot ASAP. Here's what the CDC says. My experience has been that it doesn't completely prevent shingles, but it makes the outbreaks livable.

My poor mother got mumps when she went to work as a children's librarian when I was ten. She was miserable. Somehow, I never caught it.

I had most of the common contagious diseases in childhood as well, at least measles, mumps and chickenpox. There were 6 of us kids, and while my father was in the Air Force, it seemed like we were always going to the base clinic for shots or boosters for something. I hated it because the nurse who was there for most of those years was a sadist with no tolerance for anxious or fearful children. If I whimpered or hung back, she would point to one of two needles taped to the wall which had been bent into a zigzag and a spiral and ask if I would like one of those. That was all it ever took to shut me up. You might think I would have caught on to this tactic at some point and called her bluff, but no.

In their fight to choose anything and everything and deny government any leeway in establishing safeguards for the general welfare, it seems the so called anti-government, “freedumb lovers” have put themselves, their families and their neighbors at risk. We can give parents the right to choose not to vaccine their kids but a woman with an unwanted pregnancy can’t choose to have an abortion?

As the younger of two sisters, I had measles, mumps and chicken pox before I went to school, because she brought them home to me. I don't even remember measles or chicken pox because I was so young when I had them, but I do remember mumps.

I remember that when I was in grade school, authorities arranged for us kids to get the polio shot at school. We had to get a permission slip signed from our parents, and my parents--always a little suspicious of medicine--didn't sign it. Then someone called my mother and convinced her to let us have the shot. I think I was only in about second grade then.

Years later I had a friend who had had polio. One of her legs was shorter than the other, causing a limp, and one of her arms was shriveled and useless. I was very glad I'd gotten the shot.

What's interesting to me in looking at your map is that the blue states (New England & the West Coast) seem to have more of a problem with unvaccinated kids than the red states. I would have thought it would be the reverse.

It is rubella (German Measles) that causes troubles for the baby if Mom has it during pregnancy. Hence in my childhood there were G. measles parties for girls. That was the only way to confer some immunity. We would have a tea party with a girl friend who was infected. It was not a perfect solution but we had no other.

There were a few reported bad side effects in the earliest days of the polio vaccine. I screamed that my parents hated me and wanted me to be paralyzed. (fortunately)They didn't listen to me and I got the shot (still screaming). Some hatred! PS I had neither the side effects nor polio... goodness.

As a practicing pediatrician for 44 years(before I retired), I would refuse to take a new patient whose parents refused to allow me to give their children all the recommended immunizations. I would tell them I was too busy treating the illnesses I couldn't prevent to worry about treating those I could prevent. I personally feel that there should be a federal law obligating parents to get all their children all the recommended immunizations, with the sole exception being for medical reasons. I can recall seeing children die of measles and polio, as well as a couple from tetanus.

As a matter of fact, I am very afraid that unless something drastic is done about the present situation, we will have to see periodic recurrences of deaths from the "childhood" diseases to remind people that there are such things.

I had all the childhood diseases. The mumps were so painful. I had to miss seeing Tom Mix (cowboy show) because of the measles. I remember the sugar cubes and vaccines. Now I've had the shingles shot and flu and pneumonia shots. Those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are akin to child abusers.

My younger sister and I had most of the childhood diseases at the same time. We were quarantined with scarlet fever, and again with and measles. We stayed in our darkened room, and we couldn't read or watch TV. I remember being miserable with mumps, but my older sister (by 16 years) had a horrible case. I was scared to death of polio and happily lined up for the sugar cube.

All that aside, I know that my grandmother had three little sisters, all of whom died of whooping cough and measles within a month of each other. My gramma was the only child who survived. That alone was enough for me to ensure that my son had every immunization available.

PS - When I had the mumps, my Pop used to fix me tall glasses of crushed ice with vanilla extract and sugar. It was wonderful! And, I'm sure the alcohol in the vanilla extract helped me (and my parents) sleep.

Remember when we got smallpox shots? Everyone had the tell-tale little round scar on their upper arm. CDC website says they stopped giving smallpox shots around 1972 because it was eradicated.

I had childhood measles (weren't they 3-day and 7-day?) and chicken pox but somehow missed out on mumps. I made double-sure I got the shingles shot when it became available because my father got the neuralgia reaction that 25% of people with shingles get: his pain was stunning and it lasted for months and months. Get the shot !

I worked with someone who had polio as a child; very traumatic. It deformed one leg so it was considerably shorter, resulting in a rolling gait. As he passed middle age the leg began giving him lots of problems again.

Another thing I remember is that newborn babies used to die in situations where they and their mothers had a different Rh factor, but scientists didn't understand what caused this until the 1940s. During the 1940s and 1950s scientists struggled with ways to prevent the Rh incompatibility from hurting and killing babies. Then in the early 60s scientists finally came up with the RhoGAM shot they have now. Another problem solved by science and vaccine.

We should all give thanks every day for these vaccines.

I had measles, chicken pox and scarlet fever as a young child. Scarlet fever meant I was out of school for the entire second semester of third grade, I believe. I followed that with polio. I had it, had the spinal tap and survived without a limp or other visible effect. My classmate was in an iron lung and died. I can clearly remember being in the back seat of our car after going to the doctor, on our way to check into the hospital. My Dad was driving and my Mom next to him with me in the back seat. I remember it because there was total silence in that car, which was a unique experience for me. My poor parents were terrified! I was in the hospital for only 4 days, but then I had to do a version of special exercises for polio kids and also take ballet to limber up and stretch my polio-compromised muscles.

As a college freshman I got the mumps and was sent home from college and had to give up my role in West Side Story, which broke my heart. It hurt, hurt hurt to have mumps and they were worried I would have lasting fertility consequences, but I didn't.

Now I am terribly worried because my own daughter is flying her 2 month old baby from Seattle to Connecticut in just a week, and then on another plane the week after that. I'd rather not even seen this grand-child than have her get measles. Too early to vaccinate. They say she may be OK because she is nursing still, and will be somewhat protected by my daughter's immunity.

Whatever they've developed for us to prevent disease, I get! Just shoot me! I don't care what it costs or how much it hurts. I've had them all and never miss my annual flu shot.

The parents who refuse to vaccinate are endangering my grand-child and everybody else! It's wrong.

I had measles and later in the year mumps. I was very very sick from both and actually had to be rushed to the doctors office on one occasion. I do not remember being afraid but I was only about 7 or 8. I am sure my parents were scared.

I also had measles, mumps and chicken pox, for which I had to wear gloves for the scratching.

Presently my 2 month old grandchild lives in Marin county, CA where there's a high concentration (by comparison) of non-vaccinated children (vaccination begins at 1-year age). Their doctor said the area has two cases so far. Her parents are having to take extra efforts of sanitation daily and frequently, now and for the next 10 months. The positive in all this is that it's being made aware to the public and the outcry might well bring about a solution.

An interesting article regarding measles is written up today in, showing a US map of incidences, mostly in the south and midwest pre-vaccination time.

As an aside to today's subject, from Ronni and several commenters, I envy you the attention and special memories you have of your fathers' involvement and attempts to make you feel better. I didn't have that, so your recollections were savored and enjoyed.

One word: Vaccinate! I simply do not understand why anyone would refuse to have their kids immunized against the diseases that we were defenseless against in our childhood. I almost died at age 3 of whooping cough. I clearly remember to this day gasping for breath and coughing almost continuously. I had a high fever and was very ill for 6 weeks.

I had mumps, chicken pox and both kinds of measles and was fortunate to recover uneventfully. I remember being terrified of catching polio. We weren't allowed to go swimming, shopping or to a movie theater--anywhere there was a crowd. I've had the pneumonia and shingles shots and have an annual flu shot (even if they aren't always 100% effective).

Those photos of kids in iron lungs certainly stuck with me--maybe they should be required viewing for the no-vaccination crowd!

At 79, I have a story similar to most of my cohort. Had most common diseases and dodged the bad experience bullet.

I don't recall that children of my generation were coming down with the great baby-killers, diptheria and whooping cough, though. There may have been a vaccine against these along with the small pox vaccine I know I got.

Many parents of children born in the early 2000s were introduced to fear of vaccines when a "research doctor" in England said that his studies revealed a relationship between the MMR vaccine and the incidence of autism, which was becoming a highly visible 'new'condition then. This belief took off and was promoted by highly visible and vociferous Autism groups.

Even though this 'researcher' was subsequently shown to be an out and out fraud, and even though proper scientific studies have demonstrated that there is NO connection between MMR or any other vaccine and autism, there are still idiot parents who do not want to give up the belief/fear and thus, measles is among us.

Dr. Knock... do you think that a young pediatrician today would immediately recognize a case of polio?

I almost died of measles at age five. My father got leave from the Army so he could be at my deathbed. My children and grandchildren have never had to suffer this way,thanks to vaccination.

I remember the polio shots here in Australia in the fifties. They didn't have sugar cubes or other oral vaccines at the time. We'd all line up for them. My sister got hers a day or so before me and she said to me, "Go first". This was because there was none of this nonsense about a separate needle for everyone, they just kept using the some one (or two), thus the first one was sharper and didn't hurt as much. So, while all my classmates were milling around not wanting the jab (who does when they are nine or ten, or what ever age we were?), I stepped up to be first. They thought that was brave of me (I didn't tell them the real reason).

I had chicken pox when I was pre-school and remember hearing the words ""Do not scratch" constantly. I did scratch and had a pox mark on my forehead for years. I had measles twice and, like others, I was in a dark room. Then when I was about 11 the polio epidemic was raging. I was a sick and weak child and escaped, but my step-sister who was very healthy got polio. She was lucky and the only lasting result was one calf was smaller than the other.

However, we played with two sisters and the youngest one contracted polio and was paralyzed. She lived the rest of her life in a wheel chair.

I didn't get the mumps until I was an adult and caring for my younger sisters and brother. My mother had just had her last baby and couldn't bring the baby into the house. My siblings were all in different stages of having whooping cough, measles and chicken pox.

I thought it was fun to watch men who came to the door take several steps back when I told them I had mumps. I didn't know it could also affect the reproductive organs of a woman.

I don't know when it started, or apparently stopped, but when I registered my children for school I had to prove that they had their vaccinations before they were admitted.

The situation in Marin county just proves that idiots will listen to their friends instead of health care professionals. A lie spreads faster than the truth. That Tracy Skit said they were well educated people just proves that ignorance is not restricted to the uneducated.

My father, born in 1916, had one brother die of whooping cough and another of diptheria. His sister Betty, the first girl after five boys and a family "pet," died of polio at the age of five. He had a picture of her in her coffin. This frightened the bejesus out of me when I was little.

I had measles for sure as a child (I remember the darkened room, no reading, etc.), and I probably had the other usual childhood viruses, too.

I remember getting TB and polio vaccines back in the 50s, and I had a childhood friend who had polio. She was in an iron lung for a time and later walked using metal lower arm crutches.

One of my college professors had polio and used special leg braces that allowed him to walk.

As a former school teacher, I am appalled by the anti-vacciners. They are endangering their children and others; it is a form a child abuse, in my opinion.

Tarzana--I don't know your age; but, Mother wrote that I "...had the diphtheria shot in Nov. 1941, small pox vaccination (and it took) Dec. 1941 and the whooping cough shots (3) in Feb. 1942. Had old fashioned measles in Jan. of 1941." The diphtheria shot is why my generation, in general, did not suffer from it; although, I knew two who had diphtheria - 1 died, 1 severely affected, physically, for life.

To others--Thanks for reminding me that rubella (German measles) is the one that causes birth defects and was surely what my grandmother had.

My granddaughter and her girlfriend are LPNs in a skilled nursing center that requires all shots before hiring.

My memories are similar to Peter's in Australia. Only in my case, I don't remember anyone volunteering. We were lined up for the shots in alphabetic order and because my last name starts with Z I had to stand and watch all my classmates walk up, try to be brave, and then cry. And by the time the needle was jabbed into my arm it must have been quite blunt!

One more -- in order to qualify for a part-time job in a local hospital, I had to prove I'd been immunized against many childhood diseases (other than polio). I wasn't immunized against those diseases but I did, however, have the exact dates of all my childhood illnesses, thanks to my mother's dutiful entries in my "baby book." When I was called in for my interview, and before I could say a word to explain my lack of shots, the interviewer said to me, "I just looked at your age and file--you have the best immunization already." I got the job.

So parents who do not vaccinate their children are making it possible fir them to get these diseases when they are adults. How sad.

Yes, measles at 4 in a darkened living room. My friend played outside and boy, did I want to go out to play. They said my eyesight was normal until then, from that point on I'm legally blind.

I too remember standing in the cafeteria to get the needle jabs in the arm...that didn't take, and I remember both the sugar cube and the shot. Mother was doubly careful. And too, we had a friend, Hellynn Hoffa, who lived out a long life in her "Yellow Submarine."

Still chicken pox and regular measles ran rampant through our school, and I got everything but the mumps.

Just this week, I encountered a new reason not to get your children vaccinated. "Parental Rights." I'm still angry thinking about that.

Thank you for sparking this lively discussion.

I remember staying the darkened and quiet room with the measles in the late '50's. I also remember our piano instructor coming down the the measles while she was pregnant, and the baby being born deaf.

I had an extreme case of chicken pox at the end of 4th grade for over a month; nearly didn't pass 4th grade because of it. When I got the shingles vaccine a few years ago, I had a heck of a reaction; arm swelled up & remained red and hot for several weeks. I wonder if it was somehow related to my original unusually severe case of chicken pox.

I remember going to one of the towns nearby (we lived in the country) for the polio vaccine, and everyone was there. I don't remember sugar cubes, though, I have always remembered a little white paper cup with liquid in it. Did anyone else receive their vaccine in this form?

Re: the Jon Stewart rip on the parent from Marin County. Turns out, at least according to ValleyWag/Gawker?, that she did have her children (6 & 9 years old) vaccinated against measles, but opted out of other vaccinations. And, according to the same source, she lost her husband to pancreatic cancer last summer. I'm not saying she is right to not to completely vaccinate her children. But it did give me pause about laughing at her.

It must have been the early sixties when my cousin got the measles. My mother took my sister and I to get a vaccination, but was told that it might not prevent us from getting sick as we had already been exposed.

We each had a mild reaction or a mild case of the measles. We never did know for sure.

I also had a severe case of chicken pox that made me miss a month of school. So glad my grandchildren don't have to go through that.

My father, now almost 84, had small pox as a child in Nebraska and had the scars to prove it. He made sure we three kids were vaccinated.

I do think that parents should have the ability to chose the MMR vaccine or have the vaccines one at a time instead of all at once.

To Trudy: I think he would first think of other diseases as the cause for the early symptoms of polio but polio would have to be on his list as a possibility.

I had everything going, including polio, as there were no vaccinations in the 40s. I was in an iron lung as a toddler, wore braces and walked with crutches, and now wear orthotics and need a walker if I'm going very far. I also have problems swallowing. I know kids who came out of polio in far worse shape than I, and some who didn't survive.

My mother lost five siblings to childhood diseases. I don't know what parents today are thinking! They will believe people who have no medical or scientific credentials (i.e. celebrities) over experts trained in the field. I've been through all those illnesses and I feel so sorry for those children.

At about 2 years old I contracted scarlatina. My whole family was quarantined. Wasn't penicillin available by then?This would have been about 1954-55. I always attributed this to the reason I have never had strep throat. About 4 years later I missed a full 1/4 of my 1st grade year due to chicken pox, mumps, measles & whooping cough. My younger sister also got these diseases but in a much milder form. I think this left me with a respiratory weakness resulting in almost annual bouts of either sinusitis or bronchitis.

I had measles in the 1940s, when I was four or five years old. I remember having to remain in bed in a very dark room, with blankets hung over the windows to protect my eyes. Later I remember also having German measles, but no one seemed particularly alarmed about that. Now I hear there are people who refuse to have their children vaccinated against measles. They claim that having measles will prevent cancer. Well, I have news for them. I had colon cancer when I was in my 60s, notwithstanding fact that I'd had both kinds of measles.

In 1950's my brother had measles, German measles mumps( more than once), chicken pox, 5th disease, whooping cough, scarlet & rheumatic fever. Although he was 4 yrs older, I thought he lived in dark bedroom- until I went to school; Didnt know he was supposed to go to school. Remember getting ""quarantine" notice outside front door- which meant I couldn't go out to play* but which of these would "earn" that quarantine??? And huge oddity i never caught any* or maybe so mild* as he was always so sick* mine not noticed?

I can remember when I was about 6 years old, in the late 50's, I had german measles and chicken pox at the same time. I remember being in a darkened room and wearing these cotton mitten that were stiff that prevented me from scratching. I remember my mother sitting in a rocking chair smoking a cigarette and singing to me. I still carry the scars on my face and body. It was a very scary time of my life.

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