Bud Kennedy

If measles comes to DFW, Parker County unprepared

Single-dose vials of the measles-mumps-rubella virus vaccine at a California doctor’s office.
Single-dose vials of the measles-mumps-rubella virus vaccine at a California doctor’s office. AP

I found a monster in Parker County.

She is endangering her own children, and everyone they meet.

She is putting her county, school and church at risk, and even bragging about it on a small-town website.

Her name is Jane.

Her children have never had measles shots.

Because Jane doesn’t trust vaccines, or doctors, or hospitals, or anything except her own imagination, she has not taken her children for vaccinations, making them walking disease vectors capable of launching a local epidemic.

According to state health officials, Jane is not the only monster.

She is simply the boldest.

There are 220 children who have not had their shots in Parker County public and private schools.

That’s triple the number from six years ago and the second-worst rate in the region behind Denton County.

If the worldwide measles epidemic continues, Parker County is at risk of a major outbreak similar to the one two years ago that sickened more than 20 children and adults regionally after a churchgoer in northwest Tarrant County returned from a mission trip.

“Unvaccinated people put themselves and others at risk,” state health spokeswoman Christine Mann wrote Friday by email.

That doesn’t seem to matter to Jane.

That’s the only name she gave the flimsy online Parker County Daily Post.

With no factual grounding whatsoever, the Post let her claim the vaccine kills children and “Your kid will essentially become a vegetable.”

She also hinted that doctors vaccinate children to use up prepaid vaccine inventory.

When her children get sick, she said, she uses “essential oils.”

More than 300 people worldwide die of measles every day. The current U.S. epidemic has struck more than 90 people in California, two-thirds of them adults, plus more in 13 other states.

In Arizona, state officials have asked unvaccinated children to stay away from school and day care. They might soon be barred from campus.

Any risk of side effects, proven or perceived, no longer outweighs the risks from the current epidemic.

That’s now exacerbated by the plunging immunization rate, worse than in Third World countries.

Children in most Central and South American countries are more likely to have measles shots than in Texas, and some of those countries have better immunization rates than Parker County.

(The number of children whose parents rejected immunizations also nearly tripled in Tarrant and Johnson County in six years, but those rates remain better than Parker’s.)

Dr. Elizabeth Carter, chairwoman of family practice for John Peter Smith Hospital and JPS Health Network, read Jane’s comments and responded strongly.

JPS’ complete support for measles vaccinations is “consistent with our mission to support the health of the communities we serve,” Carter wrote.

Children with measles often come down with complications and risk death, she wrote. The pneumonia risk is 1 in 20.

Parents such as Jane opposed to vaccines should ask the parent of a child with pneumonia, she wrote: “She would probably advise against that risk. No one knows who that 1 in 20 will be.”

Time and responsible parenting have taken away the memory of the 1950s red and German measles outbreaks. Measles cases peaked at 85,962 cases in Texas in 1958.

Some writers elsewhere want to jail parents who reject the measles vaccine, or make them financially liable for damages.

I won’t go that far.

But our immunization rate is enough to make you sick.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy