HOME
ABOUT IAC
CONTACT
A-Z INDEX
DONATE
SHOP
SUBSCRIBE
Immunization Action Coalition
Unprotected People Stories 
General
Chickenpox (varicella)
Diphtheria
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hib
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Influenza
Measles
Meningococcal
Mumps
Pertussis (whooping cough)
Pneumococcal
Polio
Rabies
Rotavirus
Rubella
Shingles (zoster)
Tetanus
Yellow Fever
Stories by Disease
Stories by Number

Unprotected People Reports: Measles

Measles: A Dangerous Illness by Roald Dahl

Click here for a fully-formatted PDF version of this report
The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) publishes Unprotected People Reports about people who have suffered or died from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Measles is a serious disease. The measles virus is very contagious, so when one person gets infected, it's easy for the disease to spread. Measles is still common around the world. There have been many recent measles outbreaks due to infected people bringing the disease into the United States from other countries. Unvaccinated people put themselves and others at risk for measles and its serious complications.
In 1962, Roald Dahl (author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and other beloved books for children and young adults) suffered a heartbreaking loss: the death of his 7-year-old daughter Olivia from the complications of measles encephalitis. More than 20 years after Olivia's death, Dahl wrote this personal essay in her memory. Dahl aimed his essay at parents who were refusing to give their children the measles vaccine in the UK. He encourages all parents to get their children vaccinated. As Dahl states in his essay: "It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised."
My eldest daughter caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything.

"Are you feeling all right?" I asked her. "I feel all sleepy," she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.

It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness.

Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.

In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles, like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.

Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another.

At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.

LET THAT SINK IN.

Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.

So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?

They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.

So what on earth are you worrying about?

It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.

The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was "James and the Giant Peach." That was when she was still alive. The second was "The BFG," dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.

5/2/14 • REPORT #108
Disclaimer: The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) publishes Unprotected People Reports for the purpose of making them available for our readers' review. We have not verified the content of this report.
 
- Guide to immunize.org -
A-Z INDEX
ABOUT IAC
IAC in the News
Staff
IAC History through Film
ACIP
RECOMMENDATIONS
ADOLESCENT VACCINATION
ADULT VACCINATION
ADULT VACCINATION GUIDE
ASK THE EXPERTS
Administering Vaccines
COVID-19 & Routine Vac
Hepatitis B
MMR
Storage and Handling
>> view all
BECKY PAYNE AWARD
BILLING & CODING
BIRTH DOSE GUIDEBOOK
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
CDC INFORMATION
CDC SCHEDULES
CLINIC TOOLS
Administering Vaccines
Adolescent Vaccination
Adult Vaccination
Screening for Contraindications
Vaccination and COVID-19
Vaccine Recommendations
Vaccine Storage & Handling
>> view all
COALITIONS FOR
IMMUNIZATION
CONTRIBUTE TO IAC
COVID-19 RELATED
Ask the Experts: COVID-19
   & Routine Vac
Clinic Tools: Vaccination and
   COVID-19
Repository of Resources
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTERS
16-year-old Visit
HPV
MenACWY Dose #2
DONATE TO IAC
EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
EMAIL NEWS SERVICES
E-NEWSLETTER: IAC EXPRESS
EXEMPTIONS
FAQs
FAVORITES
FDA PACKAGE INSERTS
FILMS ABOUT IAC
GIVE BIRTH TO THE
END OF HEP B
HANDOUTS FOR
PATIENTS & STAFF
View All Materials
Administering Vaccines
Adolescent Vaccination
Adult Vaccination
Contraindications / Precautions
Documenting Vaccination
Healthcare Personnel
Managing Vaccine Reactions
Parent Handouts
Pregnancy and Vaccines
Q&As: Diseases and Vaccines
Q&As: Easy-to-Read
Schedules for Patients
Screening Checklists
Standing Orders Templates
Storage & Handling
Strategies & Policies
Temperature Logs
Top Handouts
Vaccine Confidence
Vaccine Recommendations
>> view all
HEP B BIRTH DOSE
HONOR ROLLS
Hep B Birth Dose
Mandatory Flu Vaccination for HCP
MenB Vaccination for Colleges
IAC EXPRESS
Subscribe to IAC Express
IMAGE LIBRARY
LAWS AND MANDATES
MANUFACTURERS
MASS VACCINATION
RESOURCES
NATIONAL ADULT &
INFLUENZA
IMMUNIZATION SUMMIT
NEWS & INFORMATION
NEWSLETTER SIGN UP
OFFICIAL RELEASES
ACIP
CDC
FDA
PACKAGE INSERTS
PARTNERS
PHARMACISTS
PHOTOS
POWERPOINT SLIDE SETS
PREGNANCY AND
VACCINES
PRESS ROOM
PROTECT NEWBORNS
FROM HEP B
PUBLICATIONS
IAC Express
Vaccinating Adults:
   A Step-by-Step Guide
Hepatitis B What Hospitals
   Need to Do to
   Protect Newborns
Needle Tips Archive
Vaccinate Adults Archive
Vaccinate Women Archive
REGISTRIES
SCHOOL VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS
SHOP IAC
DVD Immunization Techniques
Laminated Schedules
Patient Record Cards
Flu Vaccine Buttons and Stickers
"Vaccines Save Lives" Pins
SITE MAP
SLIDE SETS
STANDING ORDERS
STATE INFORMATION
Immunization Websites
Laws and Mandates for School Entry
Immunization Program Managers
SUBSCRIBE TO IAC EXPRESS
SUPPORT IAC
TALKING ABOUT VACCINES
Adjuvants & Ingredients
Autism
Importance of Vaccination
MMR Vaccine
Religious Concerns
Vaccine Safety
>> view all
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING
TRANSLATIONS
IAC Handouts
VISs
TRAVEL (INTERNATIONAL)
UNPROTECTED PEOPLE
STORIES
Chickenpox
Hepatitis B
Measles
Whooping Cough
>> view all
VACCINATING ADULTS:
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
VACCINE INFORMATION
STATEMENTS
Translations
VACCINE
MANUFACTURERS
VACCINE POLICY &
LICENSURE
ACIP
FDA
WHO
VACCINE SAFETY
VACCINE TIMELINE
VACCINES
Hepatitis B
HPV (Human papillomavirus)
Influenza
Pertussis
Varicella
>> view all
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
VIDEO LIBRARY
VISs
Translations
WHAT'S NEW OR UPDATED AT IAC
Handouts
VISs and Translations
Web Pages
 
Immunization Action Coalition  •  2550 University Avenue West  •  Suite 415 North  •  Saint Paul, Minnesota  •  55114
tel 651-647-9009  •  fax 651-647-9131
 
 
 
This website is supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Grant No. 6NH23IP22550) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The website content is the sole responsibility of IAC and does not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.