But just to make sure I called my 94-year-old mother a couple of days ago to ask her about it.
My mom said she didn't recollect me having measles but she remembered that two of my bothers were very sick with measles at the same time. She recalled their high fevers, that my father, a doctor, brought home doses of gamma globulin to try and bolster their immune systems, and that our pediatrician was so worried that he even stopped by a couple of times after his office hours to check on them.
That was back when 1 in 500 hundred children infected with measles died from it.
I asked my mom if she knew of children back in her day who suffered from the bad complications that can develop from measles: pneumonia, deafness, or encephalitis.
She couldn't remember anymore.
But she still remembers how dangerous measles could be, as well as the terrible damage that could be inflicted by rubella, or German measles .
Back before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine all but wiped out those diseases in our country, pregnant women who'd never had German measles and therefore had no immunity lived in fear of being exposed to the disease as it could cause birth defects such as deafness, eye damage, heart defects, mental retardation, and liver damage in their unborn child.
My mother still can't forget how early in her pregnancy with my youngest brother my older brother came down with rubella. As my mother had never had the disease all she could do to protect her unborn child was get a shot of immunity-boosting gamma globulin and pray that she wouldn't be infected.
As my mother no longer cares to follow the news much - it's all too depressing - she wasn't aware that measles and mumps outbreaks have been slithering their way across the country. So I told her about the outbreaks.
"Oh, ye gods!" was her response. "Don't they have a vaccine for those?"
I told her about the anti-vacciners who won't allow their children to be inoculated, and so these diseases have been making a comeback the last couple years.
When my mother asked why in the world people wouldn't vaccinate their children I told her about the belief among some that the MMR vaccine causes autism.
My mother couldn't believe it. "Has that been proven?" she asked.
I told her that the theory that the vaccine causes autism was somebody's wild idea but that the theory has since been thoroughly investigated and disproved by scientists. It's a snake-oily old wives' tale that some people cling to as the truth.
"Oh, how can people believe that stuff?" my mother asked, albeit rhetorically.
"Because they've nevef seen measles," I answered, channeling my children's first pediatrician, Dr. Lillian Marks.
Dr. Marks was a pediatrician who had a practice in Whitehall, the urban Columbus suburb where Tom and I lived before we moved our family to Gahanna.
Dr. Marks was already in her 70's back when she began treating my children in the late 1970's, and when administering vaccination shots to them she would coo, "Oh, I know you don't like this, but it's better to get one shot than to get very sick and have to go to the hospital and get many shots, like children used to have to do."
She'd then sometimes recall scenes from when she was a young doctor in Chicago of hospital wards filled with suffering children from epidemics of diseases that vaccines were in the process of wiping out by the 1980's.
"If you ever saw a ward full of children with measles or whooping cough," she'd say, "and their mothers having to sit by them and watch them suffer... " She'd shake her head then emphasize how fortunate we were not to have to see those terrible epidemics anymore, thanks to the vaccines.
Except that the current anti-vacciner movement and flabby public health regulations may change that.
Which leaves me wondering whether I, who've never had measles, should look into getting an MMR shot myself.
"I'd go ahead and get the shot," my Mom suggested. "And," she added, "be sure and wash your hands a lot."
That I shall most certainly continue to do.