Letter From Roald Dahl Urging Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids Goes Viral

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Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl

Two years before his death, Roald Dahl penned an open letter urging parents to vaccinate their children.

The renowned children's author, who passed away in 1988, lost his daughter Olivia in 1962, one year before a measles vaccine was approved.

Decades later, the letter, which details his grief at losing his own child, has gone viral.

"Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old," Dahl wrote. "As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything.

'Are you feeling all right?' I asked her.

'I feel all sleepy,' she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead."

In the paragraphs that follow, Dahl urges parents to consider the fact that up to 20 children a year will die from the measles, while only one child in every 250 years will suffer a serious side effect from being immunised.

"So what on earth are you worrying about?" argues Dahl. "It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised."

What Dahl doesn't realize is that his words still resonate today - and debate still rages on both sides.

According to the official Australian government health website, immunisation is the safest and most effective way of giving protection against the disease.

"After immunisation, your child is far less likely to catch the disease if there are cases in the community. The benefit of protection against the disease far outweighs the very small risks of immunisation."

Adds Dahl in his letter, "There is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it."

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