ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Sharon Humiston is one of the leading experts in the field of immunization and lives in Pittsford.
With the measles outbreak growing by the week, Adam talked with Humiston, who spends part of the month in Kansas City where she works at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
She also once worked for the CDC’s National Immunization Program.
Here’s some of the Q&A:
Adam: What does a bad case of measles look like in a child?
Dr. Humiston: So it starts out as just like a regular old viral illness, sniffles, cough, some red eye, and then 3 or 4 days into it, then they break out in a rash, and that’s one of the problems, is that the rash comes after the rest of the virus. so you don’t necessary know that you have measles from the beginning. So then the rash breaks out, and then some kids get quite sick, they have an ear infection, they get diarrhea, but the thing that most kids die from, is the pneumonia.
Adam: OK, so measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, just this year from January 1st, until now, we’ve seen more than a thousand cases in 28 states, we haven’t seen that since 1992 — what’s happening?
Dr. Humiston: People stopped using the vaccine. They became afraid of the vaccine, based on a faulty report, and so they stopped using the vaccine.
Adam: What is the MMR vaccine?
Dr. Humiston: It’s a vaccine that combines measles, mumps and rubella. again, most people don’t remember back at the time when we had measles, mumps and rubella, and unfortunately, that forgetfulness has made it so that people stop using the vaccine. But its those three viruses together.
Adam: You wrote a book, “Vaccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent” — is there reason for concern, when it comes to the vaccine?
Dr. Humiston: There really isn’t. The vaccines have been studied and studied, more than any other drug that I can think of, they’ve been studied. and so all of our fears about autism have all been put to rest…and large studies I might add.
Adam: The CDC, The American Academy of Pediatrics, they have said that the vaccine does not cause autism. And the 1998 Lancet study has been debunked. If a parent says that the MMR vaccine caused autism in their child, what likely actually happened?
Dr. Humiston: Well, some people say, ‘My child got the vaccine and six months later, he developed autism’ … well, when you think about all the many things that happen, all the many exposures, there is no reason to think that it was the vaccine. Autism is a genetic disorder.
Adam: So what you’re saying is, sometimes parents didn’t see the signs before, or sometimes autism can come on late, and there can be regression in children, and the timing is just coincidence.
Dr. Humiston: That’s exactly right., exactly right.
Adam: New York State recently ended the exemptions to vaccine mandates for children going into school. What do you think of that particular type of move?
Dr. Humiston: I think it’s an important move because we need to protect the kids who are in school. The only way to protect them is by having everyone vaccinated. There are no religions that are against MMR. There are no religions that say you can’t have the MMR vaccine. And so, that was never fair, to say that it was a religious exemption.
Note: Many in the Orthodox Jewish community New York City shunned immunizations. Also, lawmakers opposed to the bill said it infringes on the rights of parents to make decisions for their children.