Parents Are Having Measles Parties and It's As Insane As It Sounds

As the number of measles cases skyrockets, some parents have been taking a more dangerous approach to building their kids immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children, teens, and adults be up to date on MMR vaccinations.

Kids With Measles Illustration
Photo: James Yang

April 11, 2019

Science has proven time and time again that immunizations are the safest way to prevent some of the scariest diseases out there—and that they have absolutely no connection to autism. But that hasn't stopped anti-vaccination groups from creating unfounded fears in new parents, which has led to outbreaks of previously eradicated diseases around the country.

The biggest issue has been measles, which is incredibly contagious and spreads easily to those who aren't vaccinated. Already this year, there have been nearly 500 cases in 19 states in the U.S., with new cases reported every day.

And the scariest part? Some of those who've succumbed to the illness have been purposely infected with the disease, as parents in parts of New York City have been hosting "measles parties" to help spread the illness from those already infected to those who haven't been vaccinated.

Many of the parents hosting these parties have received misinformation about the safety of vaccinations, others claim that extreme religious beliefs drive their decision to not vaccinate their children. And so they're subjecting their children to a painful illness with high fevers and rash that has already hospitalized 10 percent of those who've contracted it in New York, including five who were serious enough to need intensive care. This is a disease that killed 110,000 people worldwide in 2017, and is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the world.

Exposing kids by sending them to hang out with other kids with measles turns them into carriers. And that puts anyone with a compromised immune system in danger—including newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women, and people with cancer or on immunosuppressive therapies because of transplants.

“I know that parents may be afraid of getting their child vaccinated, but as a pediatrician, I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles,” said NYC Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, according to CBS News. “The vaccine has been proven safe and effective in preventing the spread of measles for decades and we have evidence.”

The current outbreak has pushed New York City to take extreme measures, as they are now requiring vaccinations or written proof of immunity from everyone who lives and works in the neighborhoods affected by the outbreak—including babies younger than a year old, who are usually considered too young to get the measles vaccine. (The babies will ultimately have to get two extra doses of measles vaccine—one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later, as they'll need that to ensure immunity. This early vaccination is typically recommended for infants traveling abroad.)

Hopefully, the push toward vaccination will help stop the outbreak safely—before something tragic happens.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles