Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Having vaccinations as a child keeps others healthy (May 5, 2010)

We have a responsibility to protect the health of others.

My aunt contracted rubella (German measles) while pregnant with my cousin, who has lived all of her 75 years with developmental disabilities. Two years after this cousin’s birth, my aunt gave birth to a second daughter with no disabilities.

My aunt, having placed my mentally delayed cousin in a boarding school for children with mental illnesses, was tormented for a dozen years by a sense of guilt because she felt responsible for ruining her child’s life. Eventually, when both children were teenagers, my aunt committed suicide.

Her younger child, then a teen, had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized and was treated with electric shock “therapy”.

There is more to this terrible story. The ripples had their effect on my uncle, who also killed himself after years of alcohol abuse.

There were serious ramifications for my cousin’s child and grandchild and to a lesser extent for the rest of the extended family and community — a spray of sadness.

The whole sad story would have been different if the person who passed measles to my aunt had been immunized as a child.

I was fascinated to learn that the commonly held idea that there’s a link between childhood immunizations, specifically the MMR vaccine, and developmental disabilities is based on faulty science and has been proven false.

It’s important in this life to follow the dictates of conscience, and when the basis for decisions is shown to be faulty, it’s even more important to change accordingly.

Parents have a responsibility to the wider community, the social contract to protect the unborn children of perfect strangers.

— Deb Phillimore Dammann

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