CBC | Brenda Shaw

Measles Survivor Recalls Horrors, Says 'For God's Sake, Vaccinate Your Children'

Although it's difficult to fully understand how exactly the anti-vax community has attained its level of influence, it is perhaps a little easier to understand how anti-vaxxers continue to believe what they do.

Those who want to keep the community alive apparently figured out that just saying vaccines cause autism without merit doesn't cut it anymore. Some ads will also attribute SIDS, seizures, diabetes and, strangely, even polio to vaccines in order to seem just scary enough to be persuasive.

But that's only half the battle.

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The other half comes down to downplaying the diseases that vaccines actually aim to treat. After all, people often got measles 60 years ago and it wasn't that bad, right?

Hopefully, one woman's account will provide a reason to think twice about that assumption.

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When she was four-years-old, Brenda Shaw of British Columbia, Canada contracted the measles.

CBC | Brenda Shaw

This occurred in 1950, when no measles vaccine existed and the condition would eventually lead her to spend a month in the hospital.

However, the reason for that visit would disturb anyone.

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One fateful morning, Shaw awakened to some unexpected pain and a chilling discovery.

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As she told CBC News, "I remember waking up that morning and my pillow case was covered in pus and blood. I was in extreme pain and screaming for Mom."

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"Dad just picked me up in his arms and drove to the hospital and that's where I stayed," she explained.

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Her medical condition was soon discovered to be measles, something she wishes there was a vaccine for at the time.

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It turned out that Shaw's eardrum had burst during the night.

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Once her dad took her to the hospital, she would spend the next two weeks laying on her right side while discharge from the infection drained out.

After she was released, she had to make annual visits to B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver for tests.

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The experience would render Shaw deaf in her right ear and made her vigilant about ever getting water in it.

CBC | Brenda Shaw

This not only made washing her hair difficult as she would grow up, but she never had the opportunity to fully learn how to swim because that would involve putting her head underwater.

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Unfortunately, Shaw wasn't the only person she knew whose life was changed by that measles outbreak.

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As she told CBC News, her best friend would end up experiencing permanent eye damage.

Another classmate had a similar experience to Shaw, except that they lost their hearing in both ears.

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Most tragically, her mother would end up contracting rubella, which is also treated by the MMR vaccine, while Shaw was recovering.

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Shaw's mother was pregnant at the time and her brush with rubella would eventually lead to the death of her baby girl 13 days after she was born on August 16, 1952.

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As for Shaw, she would end up undergoing two eardrum transplants to repair the damage her measles did with little success.

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She remains deaf in her right ear today and the toll the disease took on her inner ear also means that she often experiences nausea and vertigo.

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All of these experiences left her disturbed to hear about a measles outbreak in Vancouver that started in one family with three unvaccinated children.

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As she put it, "I can't say enough times: For God's sake, vaccinate your children. It does not cause autism."

As far as she sees it, nothing is worth exposing children to serious and potentially life-altering diseases like measles.

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Shaw expressed confusion over how parents have chosen not to vaccinate against deadly diseases.

CBC | Brenda Shaw

"They can kill," she said. "You need to do some research yourself," meaning that people shouldn't take rumors or hearsay for facts. Instead, she says it's important to look at the science.

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"You have to see the ramifications, because it's very serious," she said.


Measles is highly contagious, and can cause serious symptoms like blindness, brain swelling, and pneumonia to name a few.

h/t: CBC News

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