In 1995, a miracle happened: Researchers and scientists designed a vaccine with a small dose of live varicella zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox.
Children everywhere could then be vaccinated against a potentially deadly disease that causes an outbreak of itchy and painful blisters (called pox), as well as a host of other unpleasant symptoms such as fever and aches and pains.
It is not surprising then, that before 1995, parents would actually go out of their way to get their young kids exposed to chickenpox in order to build up their immunity to the disease.
As any doctor will tell you, chickenpox can pose the most serious danger to pregnant women and adults — and so, before this miracle vaccine was available, exposing young and healthy kids to the pox was considered a wise thing to do.
But now? There’s no need. So why then, with a safe vaccine readily available, are parents still hosting the damn chickenpox parties — even mail ordering chickenpox-contaminated lollipops to give their kids — in order to intentionally make their littles ones sick?
Consider some of the mostly rare, but very serious side effects of chickenpox:
– bacterial skin infections
– bleeding problems (particularly dangerous for those with bleeding disorders)
– bone and joint infections
– encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
– toxic shock syndrome (yup, you read that right)
– death (um, what?)
The vaccine, while containing a live culture of the chickenpox virus, is considered safe because it is up to 1,000 times less likely to cause any side effects and virtually no risk of death or permanent injury.
If that were not bad enough, once you have chickenpox in your system, you are then at risk to develop shingles later in life, which is a painful and sometimes disfiguring version of the potentially deadly virus.
For those of you who don’t know what shingles are, let me catch you up to speed real quick. Shingles are also known as zoster or herpes zoster, and are a form the same exact virus that causes chickenpox. In fact, once you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and may develop into shingles at any point during your lifetime.
Symptoms of shingles include flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, diarrhea, sensitivity to light, headaches that range in severity, itching and painful sores that turn into puss-filled blisters that can appear anywhere on the body which then pop and scab over.
Sounds fun, huh?
Listen, as a parent, I fully understand the inclination to boost my children’s immunity to diseases — because who wants their child to suffer and be sick?
But when we know beyond a doubt that something as painful as chickenpox can be easily prevented with a vaccine that is proven safe and effective, then I’m left to wonder why on earth any parent would choose something as antiquated as a chickenpox party to intentionally infect their kid?
It’s time to put the pox-contaminated suckers down, people. Cancel the party, and consider making an appointment with your trusted doctor instead. It’s science, folks.