I am 82 years old, and was a child before the development of vaccines against childhood diseases.

Virtually every child had them all: chickenpox, whooping cough (pertussis), measles and mumps. Mumps was a particular problem because it can result in sterility and other effects if contracted by an adult male. As a result, young boys were sent to visit friends who had mumps with the hope that they would get them and build up an immunity before puberty.

I particularly remember my bout with whooping cough. I was bedridden and coughed and vomited day and night for three weeks. The “upchuck” bowl was always on the floor by my bed. I still get emotional when I think of the loving care that my mother gave me.

The development of the polio vaccine just after World War II was a huge achievement. The fear of this disease was everywhere, and no one was exempt. Everyone knew the mark that it had left on our president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Vaccines are truly a blessing.

I’m concerned today for the children of anti-vaxxers, who may suffer as I did, but now needlessly. Also, I’m concerned for those adult men who might contract mumps even though as children, they had no say in the decision not to be vaccinated.

Worse, I fear for those who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated and are therefore at risk of all these diseases.

Barry Stewart

Orr’s Island

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