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An Unexpected Side Effect of My Daughter’s Measles Vaccine

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I’m pretty liberal when it comes to most things, but I don’t like drama or controversy. Lately everyone has been in an uproar about vaccinations and the measles outbreak. Several of my friends have posted “pro-vaccination” links on their Facebook pages. While I agree with them, I haven’t “liked” a single one. I just didn’t want to get involved in the debate. Until now…

We took my daughter to her 15-month check up. She received two vaccinations. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure which ones she was getting. I had discussed my feelings about vaccinations with my pediatrician. We agreed to follow the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendations with my older two, and now again with my third.

Ten days after her well visit, she developed a low-grade fever and started to get some red bumps on her belly. It was a Thursday, so assuming it was just a virus, I decided to wait until the next day to see what happened. When she woke up Friday morning, her tiny little body was covered in red bumps. I decided that before the long weekend, it would be a good idea to see the doctor, just in case.

He looked at her and agreed that it was probably viral, until we started talking about the check-up she had recently gotten. He realized that she had received the MMR vaccine, and that she was reacting to it. To react 10 days later was textbook, he told me. She had a diluted form of measles. He told me to expect a fever and rash for three to five days, and assured me that it was much better than getting the actual disease.

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The next three days were pretty awful. The rash got angrier and covered every square inch of her face and body. It didn’t seem to itch her, thank goodness, but she was pretty miserable all weekend. She didn’t eat much, and she had trouble sleeping.

I had heard about low-grade fevers following shots, but never 10 days later. After the inevitable Google search from my phone, while the baby slept on me, I found that this happens about 5% of the time. As I always do, I took to Facebook to share this parenting story. I am a believer in moms helping each other out by sharing their experiences. Since I didn’t know this sort of reaction was possible, I assumed most didn’t either. I was right.

Everyone was very supportive, but several people texted and messaged me along the lines of, “Is she contagious?” As if I had single-handedly brought measles to our little central Florida suburb! I assured everyone, as my pediatrician had assured me, that she was 100% not contagious.

Our little measles experience was pretty awful. I cannot even begin to imagine what the “real” full-blown measles looks like. As parents we have to make some tough choices for our kids. This vaccination decision–it’s one of the easy ones, people!

We are fortunate to live in a time when modern medicine can prevent our children from many horrible diseases. Having lived through just a diluted form of measles, it is unfathomable to me that a parent could choose not to protect their baby from that, or any other horrible and preventable disease.

So if your friend’s child gets an MMR shot, and 10 days later has a fever and rash, now you’ll know what might be going on. Stock up on Benadryl, Tylenol, and lollipops for them. Offer to bring over a meal. They can expect three to five days of yuckiness, but that’s so much better than the alternative.

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