HOUSTON — Houston has one of the highest rates of unvaccinated kids in the country when it comes to measles, mumps and rubella.
That’s according a 2017 CDC report, the most recent year that the data was collected.
Only 87.8 percent of children between 19 and 35 months have the vaccine. The recommended rate is 90 percent.
Measles is a dangerous disease that can be deadly, as Houston resident Cecilia Rodriguez found out 30 years ago.
“I’m a survivor of the 1989 outbreak of the measles,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here to tell that story. It’s something that took a toll on my life.”
Rodriguez was 13 months old when her father, Carlos, thought she had a cold.
“She started having fever, runny nose, so, we figured it was something minor,” Carlos said.
He quickly realized it was far from minor.
“She woke up in the middle of the night and she couldn’t breathe,” Carlos remembered. “We were like, man, let’s take her to Texas Children’s.”
German Measles put the young Cecilia in a coma for 9 months. She underwent several life-saving, but dangerous surgeries.
“We cried every day,” Carlos said.
Carlos recalled one surgery when he asked the doctor what her chance of survival was.
“What is the percentage of her living through it? And Dr. Stein was telling me that there’s only like, 1 percent. She only had 1 percent chance of living. So, I went to the chapel and I prayed for a long time and something told me just take the chance.
“So, I took that 1 percent and here she is.”
Measles affected Cecilia’s speech, hearing and eyesight. She spent several years in special education classes. She was also told she would most likely not be able to have kids; today, Cecilia has three.
“I didn’t let anything stop me, you know? I went on to school,” she said. “I finished school, I did a lot of volunteering.”
Cecilia credits Texas Children’s Hospital with saving her life and believes vaccines can do the same for her family.
“I keep all of my children vaccinated, up-to-date because I do not want to go through that experience with my three beautiful children that I have,” she said.
When Cecilia was a baby the MMR vaccine wasn’t given until a child was 15 months old. After the 1989 outbreak that infected 3,200 Texans, the medical community lowered the age to 12 months.
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