*This is a report from a missionary I know:
June saw a Canadian nurse fly in from town to give measles vaccines to the Turu people. Measles has been sweeping across Papua and we were so thankful for the opportunity to vaccinate the people here before they were exposed. Giving vaccines for an illness that has no name in the Turu language was quite interesting - people thought the injection would prevent all future illnesses and cure their current sicknesses (whatever they might be!) Needless to say, it did not take any convincing to get people to line up for a shot!
I know this is a touchy subject, and there is a great deal of disagreement on it, but I was raised in the era of polio. Some of my classmates had it, and it's a terrible disease. I remember Mom and Dad and their fear that "their boys" might get it. At one time, smallpox was the scourge of the earth. It hasn't been too long since that was true, either.
It seems so easy to forget what these diseases were really like. They killed. They maimed. They destroyed lives.
Even now, harmless Chicken pox has its final denouement in shingles, which, please believe me, is a destructive disease. My girlfriend had it, and suffered immensely--she still gets painful reminders of the illness once a year or so. One of my girlfriend's doctors had it. She got the recurring version, and it's pretty much wrecked her career.
I know that there is a great deal of argument about the potential harm that vaccines cause, and they may. They may be given too rapidly, or too early in the child's life, or too many at once, or perhaps there is a problem with the manufacture.
However, this does not obviate the fact that vaccines have been a godsend to many people who would either not have survived into adulthood, or whose lives would have been ruined by diseases for which we have vaccinations.
The missionary quote, above, tells us what tribal people think of a shot that will stop measles. They all want it. Why? Because in primitive cultures, measles is a devastating disease.
We ought to remember our history.