Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Child Vaccines: Some Parents Ill at Ease

Does the private right of parents to not vaccinate their kids trump the greater public good?

Measles Is Not Child's Play continued...

But according to the CDC:

  • Up to 1 in 20 children with measles will get pneumonia
  • About 1 in 1,000 children with measles will get encephalitis -- an acute inflammation of the brain that can cause permanent nerve and/or brain damage
  • 1 or 2 in 1,000 children who get measles will die from the disease.

"While measles is almost gone from the United States, it still kills about half a million people a year around the world," a CDC fact sheet for parents points out. "Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely."

Before measles vaccines were developed, most children contracted the disease by the time they were 15, the CDC notes, resulting in:

Yet some parents who object to childhood immunizations will host or bring their children to so-called "measles parties," where the kids can get exposed to an infected child, get the disease, and develop immunity naturally. One such mother told the New York Times "I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good."

"It would be a terrible mistake for a parent to deliberately expose their child to measles, or chickenpox, for that matter," Halsey tells WebMD. "To deliberately give a child measles in this day and age is not only inappropriate, but it actually might be considered to be criminal, because it's preventable."

But that mother is no different from any other parent who wants what she thinks is best for her children, says Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a consumer-oriented vaccine safety watchdog group she co-founded. Fisher and NVIC co-founder Kathi William blame serious reactions to the diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccination for their children's learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.

"I disagree that individual health and public health are two different things," Fisher says in an interview with WebMD. "Individuals make up the community, and if you have a number of individuals who are suffering adverse effects to a medical intervention, a public health intervention, by extension that eventually becomes a matter of public health."

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
gloved hand holding syringe
infant receiving injection

WebMD Special Sections