Parents shouldn't focus only on measles, however, say St. Pierre of the CDC and Byington, the pediatrics professor. Of the 27,550 reported pertussis—or whooping cough—cases in 2010, 4,858 were patients between the ages of 11 and 18, Byington says.
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"Measles is one of the more dangerous of the vaccine-preventable infections, so I don't think it's bad for parents to be worried about measles," Byington says. "But really they should be worried about all of the vaccine-preventable infections."
Teresa Valerio Parrot, a self-identified hyperactive mother about her 11-year-old daughter's health, agrees. After being quarantined for five days with her husband and her daughter—who got whooping cough from a classmate at Niwot Elementary School in Denver despite having been vaccinated—the three were ready to kill each other, Parrot says. "No laws were broken, and we averted a Lord of the Flies moment," she says.
The experience leaves her with little patience for parents who don't vaccinate their children. "I'm none too happy about the prospect of my child facing something like the measles because you forgot or had [an] aversion to the vaccination," she says.
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