I was listening to the radio this morning and my local morning show brought up the topic of "Chickenpox Parties" and I was intrigued. I could not listen to the entire conversation because I needed to get out of my car and get into work. What I did hear really bothered me.
I have worked in healthcare pretty much since highschool when I worked as a pharmacy tech up to about three years ago when I was running a disease tracking program along with a website for a well known pharma company. Go ahead, call me evil. Anyway, I believe in vaccines. I always have and I always will. You will not sway me on this topic, don't try. So when I heard that parents were purposely exposing their children to chicken pox so as to avoid them having to get the chickenpox vaccine, I was deeply angered. You see I am living proof that the antibodies that you get from catching chicken pox do not last a lifetime.
I have had the chickenpox twice. No, I do not have a problem with my immune system. No, I did not have one or two 'pox' and then get a worse case later. I really had it twice. I had the fevers, the itching, the lack of sleep, the embarrassment of having sores all over your body...during the summer (both times). Knowing how that felt and knowing that there is no 'get it once and your never get it again' immunity (and yes, you can get mono after you have had it once) I am sickened that anyone would expose their child knowingly to such a disease when there IS in a vaccine that can help either prevent the disease or at least get a weaker case. There is an article in "Mothering" magazine about Chickenpox Parties that made me sick to my stomach. It talks about developing 'natural immunity to Varicella (chickenpox virus). I am sorry but there is not one natural thing about this 'party' process. Naturally getting a disease means you come into contact with it, on your own. Actually forcing the illness upon a child is chilling and I am sorry, I am going to say it, negligent.
It is negligent because they don't have any clue as to how their child is going to react to the disease. Did you know that the fevers from chicken pox can cause swelling of the brain? Yes, fevers can be treated but since these parents are trying a 'natural' way of getting antibodies I am going to go out on a limb here and say they probably are not going to dose their child with Tylenol or Ibuprofen if their child gets a fever. They might take them to the ER (and then thanks again for continuing the spread) but if the fever is high enough for long enough, damage is already done. Also, chickenpox sores can easily become infected causing scarring and possibly secondary infections that, if left untreated (again, going to the 'natural' thought thing again) could cause serious complications.
If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I am all for organic and local living but I have the Hep B vaccine and I get my flu shot every year (yes it does work and no you cannot get the flu from the flu shot) and when I am in my 60's I will get the pneumoina vaccine. If I have children, they will be vaccinated with all the required vaccines. Why? I don't want my children to get sick from preventable diseases and I would not want them to pass them on to anyone else. Don't even try to tell me, "You're not a parent, you wouldn't understand." because I do understand. I understand the science and the risks probably better than many people because I am just that smart and I do my research.