Measles and me: why I chose to have the Astra Zeneca vaccination

I wanted to recount an experience when I was very young, when I had measles as a child.

I was 4 years old at the time. I don’t think that I had even started primary school. In those days, and this was many years ago there was no vaccine for Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR).

My family and my grandma were due to travel to Scotland. In those days there were no motorways as they hadn’t been built - so travelling across the country took hours on winding A roads. I hadn’t been showing signs and symptoms of measles before we started travelling, but over the weekend I became quite unwell.

One of the tell-tale signs of measles are Koplik spots (external link) in the mouth. So my dad noticed that I had these. It’s very infectious. Koplik’s spots are named for paediatrician Henry Koplik who first described the early symptoms of measles in 1896. Koplik’s spots should fade as the other measles symptoms disappear. This happens a few days before a red rash appears on the skin. I had to stay in bed for several days covered in a red rash. This wasn’t the worst part.

I developed a very high temperature and the worst thing about this was my hallucinations –seeing things on the carpet. I think it was a squiggly design but in my delirious state I thought there were spiders on the floor pulsating and moving about. It was terrifying. I remember calling out to my family members to remove them for me. This is something that I remember very clearly.

My family sat with me as I couldn’t be left. We were staying in a guesthouse in Dundrennan (external link). It’s a village near Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, 5 miles east of Kirkcudbright. It was a very rural place back in the 1970’s. It's rural now but it was ‘the back of beyond’ – then. There is a wonderful ruin of an abbey (external link), a 12th century Cistercian abbey. I say this because the place was beautiful and near the sea and of course I couldn’t go out. There was one good thing though. I remember that my father taught me to whistle and. I had forgotten, but my brother reminded me the other day when I told him I was going to write about it.

Measles can be very serious. About 1 in 3 out of 1000 people will die. 1 in 5 have to be hospitalised. Now vaccination is encouraged and each GP service in the UK has targets to meet for NHS England. Years ago there was no vaccine and no choice.

I was lucky I recovered and I hope my experience shows why vaccinations can be positive. This was one of the main reasons behind my choice to have the vaccination for COVID-19, and why I’m pro-vaccination. 

By Fiona Lord

More information about the MMR vaccination programme 

GOV.UK Green Book of Immunisation: Measles (external link) 


Page last updated:

November 9, 2022