Most adults fought off infectious diseases – like measles and mumps – when they were kids, and it never did them any harm. Why not let nature take its course?

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

November 27th, 2021

Editorial Board

It’s true that many infections simply heal without lasting consequences. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who contract measles will make a full recovery. However, sometimes childhood illnesses can be very serious.

Around one in 1,000 children who get measles develops inflammation of the brain – a condition called measles encephalitis. While this is mercifully rare, it can often lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

In about one in a million cases, measles encephalitis can even occur after vaccination against measles. This is 1,000 times less frequently than after the disease. In addition, the fever cramps that are often endured by measles patients can largely be avoided by vaccination. Measles can also lead to painful cramps. Around one in 15 measles patients suffer from these cramps whereas cramps affect just one in 100 people who have been vaccinated.

So, the infectious diseases which affect children are far from harmless. Indeed, they can sometimes have devastating consequences. For this reason it is best to be immunised against them where possible.

Vaccines can also lead to problems but, on balance, most doctors and scientists say the risks associated with not being vaccinated is far higher than any risk associated with immunisation itself. It is now possible to vaccinate against several childhood diseases against which previous generations had no protection.

How about this analogy: In the past, there were no seatbelts in cars or protective bicycle helmets. This led to large numbers of injuries and deaths, although there are also plenty of people who lived to tell the tale. Now that it’s possible to take advantage of these relatively new protections, most people are happy to do so.