More Than A Pair of Souvenir Ears

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Just before Christmas the girls and I went on our annual “girls trip” to Disneyland. I grew up with The Mickey Mouse Club and trips to Disneyland and I’ve done my best to completely indoctrinate my kids from the get go. Literally Otto had a Mickey Mouse blankie in his hand before he could even focus on my face. We are a Disneyland Family. So the girls and I went off for a weekend of mother-daughter bonding. It was awesome. We came back with lots of wonderful memories and Mickey Mouse chocolate coins and Frozen nightgowns (them, not me). But what we didn’t come back with was measles! Good gracious. Have any of you people seen what is going on over in California? 79 cases of measles, over 50 of them directly linked to the Disneyland Parks. The outbreak began in mid-December and continues to spread, the number of cases fast approaching 100 across the West Coast.

That is scary. What’s even scarier is that the outbreak began at the same time the girls and I hanging with the Pirates of the Caribbean. Which makes me so grateful for two very important facts. Firstly, my girls recently had their MMR boosters. Before that they were probably 95% protected, and now we’re up to 99%. Measles is not a joke. I saw one case as a resident and that kid was miserable. Beyond making you feel wretched, up to 20% of people with measles will have a complication such as pneumonia.

The second fact I was grateful for? We were at Disneyland Paris. Which clearly was a better choice this year and not just because they serve awesome cheese at dinner. And foie gras at the Cinderella lunch. And they have the Crush’s Coaster Ride. And it’s only a 2 ½ train ride from our home. But also because a person with measles didn’t go sneezing all over Dumbo and infecting a whole bunch of people who have then gone on to infect a bunch more people and so on and so forth while public health officials run around in a panic closing clinics and banning kids from school and all kinds of craziness to try and control this epidemic before someone dies. Because that is what happens to around 1 out of every 1000 cases. Someone dies.

I love vaccines. But I think I may love Disneyland even more. This whole situation just crossed a big fat line for yours truly. The anti-vaccine movement is now messing with my Mouse.

This epidemic is more than just ill children. It’s costing money. It’s disrupting lives. And it is very clearly linked to the hold that the anti-vaccination movement has on Southern California. Unethical, greedy and outright dangerous characters like “Dr. Bob” have convinced parents that vaccination isn’t really that important. Parents who must surely love their children are so willing to believe nonsense from the Internet but then refuse to believe anything from the CDC, WHO, AAP or the general scientific and medical community.

That makes me and a lot of other people angry. But what gives me hope is this. If you are a parent who is unsure about vaccines, maybe this will help you make the decision to vaccinate. This outbreak is big and scary and it’s also very, very real. Vaccines are victims of their own success. If you don’t see children dying from diphtheria or paralyzed from polio, the vaccine could sound scarier than the illness. But these infections are real. They are here. And now they’ve gone and tainted the name of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Vaccines save lives. And mice. What more can I say?