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The Risk of Chicken Pox and “Pox Parties”

There are lots of ways to handle Chicken Pox.

Some adults are organizing Chicken Pox parties in an effort to expose children to the disease. The underlying theory is that children will likely contract the disease at some point, anyway, and complications are usually less intense if the infection occurs when people are young. Let’s review the merits of this approach:

  • Parents offer to send others in a Facebook group a lollipop that was licked by a child with Chicken Pox. This behavior is not only disgusting, but it’s also illegal.
  • Doctors caution that gathering children together is likely to expose them to secondary infectious risks including encephalitis and strep. Such parties are not based upon any real science and are not controlled or supervised by medical staff.
  • Children are at risk from secondary bacterial infections which lead to lesions caused by the condition. This can be especially troublesome for younger children who tend to touch dirty surfaces without washing and who are prone to picking at lesions.
  • Chicken Pox is an airborne virus, so licking a lollipop is not even a likely transmitter, but it can spread hepatitis and other diseases.

Not surprisingly, officials from the CDC and other agencies strongly condemn people that organize such parties in lieu of giving their children the required vaccinations.

  • The vaccine and getting the actual disease both provide the body with antibodies; however the vaccine is a much more controlled and safer manner.
  • Unvaccinated children that get the virus will typically suffer from many more sores and more severe symptoms from the virus than those that get Chicken Pox after vaccination.
  • The Chicken Pox vaccine is exceedingly safe, with common side effects including rash, slight fever, and soreness at the injection site. More serious side effects are extraordinarily rare.
  • Vaccinations for Chicken Pox and other diseases serve as group protection for people who cannot be immunized due to depressed immune systems.

Another risk of such parties is to accidentally expose adults who have never had it as a child. Such infections are often fatal and require treatments with antiviral drugs in order to slow the spread of the virus. Adults are often at risk for developing shingles. This disease is the result of dormant Chicken Pox which never completely leaves a host body. Shingles produces a severe rash that can persist for weeks or months, and can even affect the eyes and other vital body areas.

What do agencies such as the CDC say about Chicken Pox?

  • Parents should closely follow the vaccine schedule for Chicken Pox. The safety of vaccines has been backed by countless studies, with links to autism and other problems which have been largely discredited.
  • The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine Zostavax® for individuals ages 60 and older. These individuals should get the vaccine whether or not they had Chicken Pox as a child.

The growing numbers of parents who are not vaccinating their children against Chicken Pox and other diseases is posing an increasing risk to public safety. Through proper education and examination of the associated science, parents should carefully consider the repercussions of failing to vaccinate their children and/or willfully exposing their children to diseases.

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