Another day, another case of anti-vaxxers putting their kids in harm’s way.
Texas mom Amanda Witt got a visit from Child Protective Services (CPS) this week after someone reported her for throwing “pox parties” — parties where unvaccinated kids meet up to infect each other with the chickenpox. Witt does not vaccinate her kids because she believes in “natural immunization.” She also moderates a Facebook group for about 300 other like-minded parents, where she encourages playdates between sick kids and healthy ones.
Stunningly, Witt doesn’t see why this is a bad idea. She was reported to CPS by members of an overseas pro-vaccination group and tells WMAZ they were totally out of line because “chickenpox parties are not considered dangerous.” She adds that kids need to get sick in order to be healthy, and it’s “only this generation that’s been conditioned to believe it [getting sick] is somehow bad.” Right. I’m sure people in 1918 were totally psyched about the Spanish flu, and couldn’t wait for their kids to get it.
Witt thinks there’s no harm in a good, old fashioned chickenpoxxing, but criminal law attorney Pete Schulte spoke with WMAZ and pointed out that actually, yes, chickenpox parties do carry some liability risks. For example, sometimes the chickenpox result in nasty complications and even kill people. “If a child is introduced to the chickenpox and becomes seriously ill, or dies, then the parents could face criminal liability out of the penal code,” Schulte says.
If a parent was having polio parties or purposely exposing their kids to hepatitis, they’d be in deep shit, but somehow when it’s chickenpox they think it’s okay. Almost everyone used to get the chickenpox, so there’s a general assumption that it’s no big deal and kids need to be exposed to it. Never mind that the New England Journal of Medicine states chickenpox caused 30,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths each year before the vaccine was introduced. Also, never mind the potential for complications, or shingles, or spreading the illness to newborns, those who can’t be vaccinated, and the immunocompromised.
CPS declined to comment on their investigation into the goings-on at Witt’s house, but she says the incident has the anti-vaccine community scared. “I feel bullied and victimized,” she told WMAZ. “I’d like for my parental rights to be respected. I didn’t break the law. My children are well cared for and it is my choice.”
Not vaccinating may be her choice, but that doesn’t make it okay, nor does it absolve her of liability in creating opportunities for others to get sick. It’s disconcerting that any parent would be so flippant about illness as to throw any kind of “communicable disease party” in 2015. Despite what this woman believes, it’s not “conditioning” or brainwashing that leads parents to vaccinate their kids. Rather, it’s sense and reason, a wealth of scientific information, and a general concern for their wellbeing.
If anyone is being bullied and victimized here, it’s the kids who are forced to contract preventable illnesses because their parents can’t be bothered to remove their tinfoil hats.