Why not vaccinating kids can be deadly

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

California is in the midst of a measles crisis, with other western states, including Arizona, reporting multiple confirmed cases and possible exposures. 

Dozens of confirmed cases of the measles have been linked to an outbreak at Disneyland. At one school district, more than 60 students have been ordered to stay home because they can't prove they've been vaccinated for measles.

CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains the symptoms of measles and why not being vaccinated could be deadly.


If someone has the measles, 90 percent of the people close to them will also get the measles if they haven't been vaccinated.

You don't have to be in the same room as someone with measles to get it. If they were in that room an hour or two before you, it's still lurking in the air and you can get it.

When someone gets measles, they first will feel a sore throat, a fever, a runny nose, they might get pink eye and, then, the rash begins. The rash starts at the hairline, and moves down from there.  It's red, it's itchy.

Now most people recover from measles and they're fine, but some people do get terrible complications. They can get pneumonia, they can have brain damage, and for every 1,000 people who get the measles, two or three of them will die.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that children get vaccinated between 12 and 15 months, and then get a second dose between four and six years old.

So most of us have been vaccinated against measles, but there's a set of people who can't be vaccinated. Babies under the age of one -- they're not routinely vaccinated.  And people who have immune issues. For example, people who've had cancer.  They can't get vaccinated either.  So all of us get vaccinated to protect them, and that's what's called herd immunity.

So right now the outbreak is centered on California and mostly Western states. However, it could spread across the country because people travel.  People might not even know they've been infected with measles. They get on a plane, they get to another state.