Pediatrician Hilary de Veber finds herself administering explanations as often as vaccinations, particularly if parents are uncertain about their effectiveness.
“I listen to their concern,” she said at her practice on Coxwell Avenue. “Some patients are very far away from vaccination.”
In the wake of Toronto Public Health’s confirmation of eight measles cases in Toronto, de Veber has strongly advised parents to vaccinate their children.
According to de Veber, some parents have hesitated to vaccinate their children because of a false link made between the vaccine and autism. An article published 10 years ago by medical researcher Andrew Wakefield “linked the vaccination to autism, but it has been disproven since,” de Veber said. “(The parents) immediately don’t trust you,” she said. “You need to allow these things to take time.”
Two of the Toronto measles cases were found in infants, while the others were found in adults. Lenore Bromley, a spokesperson for Toronto Public Health, noted that three of the four infected adults were not vaccinated with the two required doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Toronto East General spokesperson Sharon Navarro noted the problem associated with immunizing “pregnant women and immuno-compromised people (with) weakened immune systems.” She said they cannot be safely vaccinated because MMR is a live vaccine, with an active virus in it.
Even though the measles cases are located GTA-wide, Toronto Public Health spokesperson Lenore Bromley pointed out that the affected individuals could well have travelled across the city and that the virus remains highly contagious. That’s why it’s important for others to be vaccinated, Bromley said.
“This is the importance of herd immunity,” she said, “to protect individuals who can’t be vaccinated, or in situations where the vaccine was not as effective.”
Pediatrician De Veber agreed.
“Herd immunity protects society and ensures the virus won’t go crazy like wildfire,” she said, adding that the benefits of immunization outweigh the short-term side effects such as a high fever.
Symptoms of the disease include a high fever, rash, cough, and a runny nose. To assist the community, Toronto Public Health has initiated Measles Hotline 416-338-7790.