Stories of the pre-vaccine days

  1. I decided to start a new thread to show evidence or stories of just how serious these illnesses can be
    And to anyone who disputes the severity of just how serious these well documented illnesses and complications of them are, I would seriously suggest reviewing some of your science courses

    From another board I was reading.....

    Obviously you are not of the generation of those of us who suffered through these illnesses. We ALL had measles, mumps, chicken pox. Oh, and let's not forget polio. Even an ear infection could result in complications. With the mumps you think you are choking to death. Oh yeah, testicular mumps can cause sterilization. The chicken pox left scars. But with the measles the scariest part was the high fever. I remember that illness in a dreamlike state. I remember the doctor making the house calls, my parents bathing me in alcohol to try and get the fever down. My mom told me I was delirious. Now picture that times the eight kids that were in our family.


    Of course, the problem with the high fever is that it can lead to convulsions and other serious complications. I had an older cousin who got the measles at age 16. Her complications led to such severe brain damage that she was left with the mind of a two year old. She spent the rest of her life in an institution.

    Because I was curious, I pulled out my Kindergarten and first grade report cards. I was absent 22 days in Kindergarten and 30 days in first grade. I remember as these illnesses would go like wildfire through the classrooms there would be 8 - 10 kids gone at a time. Pretty hard for a teacher to teach when kids are out for long periods at a time.

    You can bet that when these vaccines became available our parents got us vaccinated. The Polio vaccine didn't become available until 1963. They did mass community vaccines for that. I remember going to **** School in ***** and standing in long, long lines of people waiting to get it. It was an oral vaccine and I remember they put it in sugar cubes.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 18, '15
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  2. 143 Comments

  3. by   LadyFree28
    Quote from dinah77
    I decided to start a new thread to show evidence or stories of just how serious these illnesses can be
    And to anyone who disputes the severity of just how serious these well documented illnesses and complications of them are, I would seriously suggest reviewing some of your science courses

    From another board I was reading.....

    Obviously you are not of the generation of those of us who suffered through these illnesses. We ALL had measles, mumps, chicken pox. Oh, and let's not forget polio. Even an ear infection could result in complications. With the mumps you think you are choking to death. Oh yeah, testicular mumps can cause sterilization. The chicken pox left scars. But with the measles the scariest part was the high fever. I remember that illness in a dreamlike state. I remember the doctor making the house calls, my parents bathing me in alcohol to try and get the fever down. My mom told me I was delirious. Now picture that times the eight kids that were in our family.


    Of course, the problem with the high fever is that it can lead to convulsions and other serious complications. I had an older cousin who got the measles at age 16. Her complications led to such severe brain damage that she was left with the mind of a two year old. She spent the rest of her life in an institution.

    Because I was curious, I pulled out my Kindergarten and first grade report cards. I was absent 22 days in Kindergarten and 30 days in first grade. I remember as these illnesses would go like wildfire through the classrooms there would be 8 - 10 kids gone at a time. Pretty hard for a teacher to teach when kids are out for long periods at a time.

    You can bet that when these vaccines became available our parents got us vaccinated. The Polio vaccine didn't become available until 1963. They did mass community vaccines for that. I remember going to **** School in ***** and standing in long, long lines of people waiting to get it. It was an oral vaccine and I remember they put it in sugar cubes.
    I hope there will be more links to come.
  4. by   rnsrgr8t
    When I was in elementary school, the mother of one of my classmates was in a wheelchair because she had polio as a child. She ended up dying in her 40's/50's due to complications from being paralyzed.
  5. by   dinah77
    Thanks for sharing!
  6. by   runsalot
    I had a patient whose parent died during the Spanish flu epidemic. ~30 million people died during this epidemic. More than people than durning WW I. Or during the 4 years of the Black Death.
  7. by   CT Pixie
    I'm a few months shy of 46 yrs old. I had a teacher in middle school who walked with crutches due to having polio.

    My sister is scared up pretty badly due to chicken pox. I remember when we both had them. We were SO very sick with very high fevers. It was horrid. I remember when 1/2 the class was absent from school from chicken pox, then the other half got them too.

    Both my daughters ended up in the hospital when they both got severe cases of chicken pox, both being under a year and a half old. (The older one got chicken pox right before the vaccine was released. The other got the chicken pox at an age much earlier than they vaccinate at.)
  8. by   JustBeachyNurse
    I will never forget it was about 15-20 years ago. I don't believe the varicella vaccine was readily available. I worked EMS and as a tech in the ED. We picked up a 23 year old first year kindergarten teacher gravely ill with chicken pox. She thought nothing of her students coming in with chicken pox to be sent home by the school nurse to get "credit" for the day. Her hysterical sister saying but it's only chicken pox, you get some blisters and a fever stay home a week and all is well. They assumed childhood exposure was enough protection. Well the 23 year old was NOT immune. She didn't get "just a fever and a few itchy blisters"

    Thanks to her kindergarteners exposing everyone this poor young lady developed viral pneumonia and chicken pox encephalitis. She required isolation and intubation before we even left the ED. She was joking on the way in that her students were going to be the death of her as she coughed. I was the EMT in the back as I had confirmed strong immunity as I suffered for two weeks with severe chicken pox at age 11.5, with pox on top of pox even on my eyelids!

    Shortly after transfer her mental status changed and her oxygen levels dropped. I returned for my shift later that evening to help care for her in the ED cleared by occupational health as we waited for an appropriate isolation room in the ICU to be prepared. I know she survived and was discharged to acute rehab after an extended hospital stay. I don't know if she recovered enough to return to teaching.
  9. by   CT Pixie
    Quote from JustBeachyNurse
    I will never forget it was about 15-20 years ago. I don't believe the varicella vaccine was readily available.
    It was available in the US in 1995. My oldest was 2 at the tail end of 95. She got the chicken pox in the late winter/early Spring of 95 so she was just over a year old.
  10. by   rnsrgr8t
    I do remember having chicken pox (this was 33 years ago), it went through my whole kindergarten. I ended up getting an abscess from an infected pox that I was scratching when my mom was not watching. Had to get it I&D'd.

    There was a mother of one of my classmates that caught the chicken pox when it was going around school and ended up intubated from encephalitis. She eventually did end up passing away from it.
  11. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Quote from CT Pixie
    It was available in the US in 1995. My oldest was 2 at the tail end of 95. She got the chicken pox in the late winter/early Spring of 95 so she was just over a year old.
    Looking at my certification records I believe it was spring 1995 so it was around the time the vaccine released. I don't recall if they recommended adults and pedi at the time or just pedi.
  12. by   amandacam
    My husband's grandfather had polio as a teen. As a result, his jaw looks misaligned and he has speech problems. It can be very difficult to understand some of the things he says.
  13. by   jifferte
    Great thread! I had the chicken pox as a child, as did my sister. Her case was more severe as she had them in her ear canal, esophagus, etc. She has a good amount of scars too.

    My good friend's husband contracted Reye's Syndrome from chicken pox as a child. He narrowly survived and has had health problems for most of his life.

    Growing up, my mom's good friend who lived across the street was left a paraplegic as a child from Polio. She always said she got away lucky.

    My paternal grandfather contracted the Spanish Flu at 14 and nearly died from it.

    Finally, all of my children picked
    up the Rotovirus a few years ago. The vaccine had been pulled or was otherwise unavailable. My middle child was hospitalized for 10 days from complications. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, I felt so damn helpless and he was so sick.

    So yeah... Vaccinate yourself and your kids. You do not get to pick which nearly eradicated diseases get to make a roaring comeback at other people's expense because of ignorance. The science is there, people.

    *steps down off box*


    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses
  14. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Rotavirus vaccine was pulled in early '00s due to the possibility of bowel obstruction. It was not available when my son was eligible. 10 days inpatient, threats of an IO or central line & transfer to the regional pediatric center for my severely dehydrated then 14.5 month old son. Couldn't hold down ice chips or his own secretions. Good thing I was as tenacious then as I am now as this was pre-pedi ED specialties in local facilities. The ED doc was going to send him home despite after 2L fluids not a drop of urine. So I gave him an ice chip. The child was predictable now as he is now.
    Ice chip
    "Mommy Mommy Mommy"
    Grind teeth
    Turn boy around who proceeds to vomit on the ED physician who failed to recognize critical labs. "Admitting now?" She called my pedi's service. On call was prenotified by our PCP. On call came to ED in middle of night to loudly discuss how the labs were critical for young pedi patients and if she had discharged my kiddo without contacting a pedi my child would not have survived the night. It was 6 days before he could tolerate PO. It was touch and go if they were going to fly him to the pedi center 20'miles away

    But a little N/V never killed anyone right ? (Sarcasm)

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