Life Wellbeing Roald Dahl’s heartbreaking vaccination plea
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Roald Dahl’s heartbreaking vaccination plea

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A letter written by famed author Roald Dahl in 1988 has been revisited as part of the ongoing debate about the safety of child vaccination.

The touching letter addresses the death of Mr Dahl’s daughter Olivia, who passed away in 1962 from measles at the age of seven.

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“Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old,” Mr Dahl writes.

“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.”

2014 was a record year for measles cases. Photo: Getty
2014 was a record year for measles cases. Photo: Getty

The author, was passed away in 1990, uses his harrowing personal experience to urge other parents not to be “obstinate, ignorant or fearful”.

“In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk,” he argues.

The letter is particularly apt at a time where there is increasing skepticism about the risks of vaccination, with some retracted studies linking vaccines to the development of autism.

The issue is especially relevant for American parents, who are currently facing a measles outbreak thought to have started at the Disneyland theme park.

President Barack Obama addressed the issue in a Monday interview, in which he urged parents to get their kids vaccinated.

“There is every reason to get vaccinated — there aren’t reasons to not,” Obama said on NBC.

“I just want people to know the facts and science and the information … And the fact is that a major success of our civilization is our ability to prevent diseases that in the past have devastated folks. And measles is preventable.”

Read Roald Dahl’s full letter here.

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