September 25th, 2009


Rebuilt and Vaccinations

Read Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human (Houghton Mifflin, 2005) is a scientific memoir of going deaf and getting my hearing back with a cochlear implant, that is, a computer embedded in my skull.

Hey had very damaged hearing from an epidemic outbreak of Rubella while his mom was pregnant with him.  He was part of baby boom of hearning impared and deaf children because of this.  Now, because of the vaccine in the US, there are no longer these waves of deaf children that once appeared regularly based on the disease.  Like any other person my age, I got my MMR vaccination in elementary school and got it updated in college.  I never really knew what rubella did, because I never had to see it.  I think that's pretty amazing.
I bet that the people who don't believe in vaccinations don't know this history either, and aren't aware they're putting their unborn kid's hearning at risk.

From another account:

I am deaf because of maternal rubella. In 1963-1965, there was an epidemic of rubella in the United States. (Before a vaccine was developed, the United States had cyclical epidemics of rubella.) That 1963-1965 epidemic produced thousands of deaf babies like myself.


The Rubella Bulge of the '60s filled schools for the deaf, and later overcrowded colleges for the deaf. This educational impact has been well-documented in articles and studies. (In addition, when I was a NTID/RIT student, I wrote an article on the rubella bulge for the RIT Reporter magazine that was reprinted in the Summer 1982 NTID Focus magazine).


Rubella has been eliminated in the United States, according to the Washington Post (March 21, 2005). The Post reported "Fewer than 10 people a year in this country now contract the infection known popularly as German measles. Since 2002, all cases have been traceable to foreigners who carried the virus in from abroad."