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Parents In New York Are Holding 'Measles Parties' For Their Unvaccinated Kids

Everybody wants to do right by their kids and raise them as best they can. And as has been so often pointed out, the little tykes don't come with ownership manuals! But what parents do have on their side is history: A continual chain of successful child-rearing that stretches back thousands of years.

It's when parents start to ignore history that things get complicated. You know, like the history of successful, safe vaccinations that can actually save kids' lives.

The City of New York is taking an outbreak of measles seriously.

Flickr | nycmayorsoffice

After more than 250 cases were reported in Brooklyn's Williamsburg community, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Hermina Palacio, and NYC Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot announced unprecedented measures to fight the outbreak.

Not only did they issue a public health emergency about the outbreak, but they also mandated vaccines for anybody currently unvaccinated.

Now, the city can't legally force actual needles into the arms of the unvaccinated, so they're taking other measures.

Flickr | NavyOutreach

They're both making it easier for those in the affected areas to get access to vaccines, and fining those who ignore the order to get vaccinated up to $1,000.

With officials blaming the outbreak on misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers, Dr. Barbot tweeted an urgent plea for parents to get their kids vaccinated.

And it seems that some parents in the Big Apple have taken matters into their own hands, in a very dangerous way for their kids.

Flickr | nycmayorsoffice

CBS News reported that, amid this outbreak, NYC health officials say they've heard reports of parents in the city hosting "measles parties" for their unvaccinated kids, with the idea that they might catch the disease and "get it over with," as some parents did with chickenpox before a vaccine for that was created.

The city's health officials want everyone to know that measles parties are not a good idea.

"As a parent, I have no doubt that each and every parent is making decisions based out of what they believe is best for their children," said Dr. Palacio. "But as a doctor, a public health practitioner, and a mom, I must warn you that exposing your unvaccinated child to measles is very dangerous, and it could even be deadly."

There are a few good reasons why measles parties are a bad plan.

For one, measles is dangerous. In addition to the obvious, trademark rash, measles causes a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.

From there, things can get much worse. Complications include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and for about 1 in 1,000 kids, it can be fatal.

And at a measles party, the danger doesn't end when the party is over.

Measles is highly contagious, infecting 90% of the unvaccinated people who come into contact with someone who's infected.

People with measles also stay contagious for a long time, and can spread the disease as much as four days before symptoms show up to four days after the rash appears. That's one of the reasons herd immunity is so critical.

That herd immunity gets weakened with measles parties.

Every kid at that party will carry measles into the world, increasing the possibility that the disease can spread to those vulnerable, like babies too young to get vaccinated or people who already have compromised immune systems.

So, rather than contributing to the herd immunity, they're breaking it down.

Of course, the safe way to expose kids to the measles virus is through vaccines.

Vaccines use an inert, de-activated virus to teach the body's immune response how to fight it safely. Dr. Palacio reiterated that, saying "I want to set the record straight. This vaccine is safe. This vaccine not only protects your child but it protects other people's children."

h/t CBS News