Your Kid Deserves a Shot at a Healthy Life

Vice Admiral Vivek H. MurthyMeasles is one of the most contagious diseases around, and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against getting infected. In the United States, we have more than 50 years of experience with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine — also known as the MMR vaccine. As a medical professional, I am confident in its safety and effectiveness and that its benefits far outweigh its risks. Not because I said so, but because that's what the science tells us.

If your children do not receive their MMR vaccinations, their risk of becoming infected with measles will depend on the vaccination rate in their community. And for those kids who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons, they depend on the rest of the community to be vaccinated. This is called herd immunity. It's the job of the herd to protect the most vulnerable among us. For this reason, getting vaccinated is a decision that not only affects you and your family, but your whole community.

To give you a little perspective on how contagious this disease is, consider that, if one person is infected with the measles, 90% of the people around him/her will also become infected if they are not protected. Though most people who are infected with measles recover, the measles vaccine helps protect children from becoming infected and having to experience the high fever, runny nose, and rash that measles infection often brings. In addition, children under 5 are more likely to experience severe symptoms such as ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, or swelling of the brain. The most serious complications can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to answer questions about measles and the importance of getting vaccinated during a Tele-Town Hall organized by MomsRising, a group of a million-plus members and more than a hundred organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of our country.

We were joined by nearly 13,000 mothers, fathers, and other caregivers, as well as countless others participating in the conversation on Twitter.

Every parent wants the best for their children. By ensuring that our kids are protected from easily prevented diseases like the measles, we are giving them a better shot at a safe and healthy life.