Why your child should avoid the latest chicken pox party craze
Chicken pox parties are a dangerous trend. Here's why:
Chicken pox is a common childhood illnesses. It might not be serious, but it’s definitely worth getting vaccinated against. However, instead of vaccinating their kid, some parents are choosing a dangerous alternative: chicken pox parties.
Quick recap: Chicken Pox
Chicken pox is a common childhood illness caused by the virus Varicella Zoster. Although it’s not a serious disease to young children, chicken pox is quite uncomfortable, with symptoms like fever, scabs, and a relentless itchy boils.
However, we’ve come a long way from just waiting out chicken pox. Nowadays there’s a vaccine that we can give our kids to protect them from this contagious virus.
Years of evidence have proved that vaccines are safe to use and protect our kids from all sorts of diseases, including chicken pox. Yet, some parents still avoid giving their kids this vaccination. Instead, they opt to actively expose them to chicken pox in chicken pox parties.
Parents are hosting “Chicken Pox parties” on Facebook
Many of these chicken pox parties are announced on private Facebook groups. Sadly, there are thousands of parents who are attracted to the idea.
Apparently parents in these “chicken pox parties” groups are actually sharing suggestions on ways to infect their children with the disease.
Headlines like “How to greatly improve your kids chances of getting chicken pox!” usually float around these Facebook groups.
Suggestions include interacting very closely with another child sick with chickenpox and inhaling from a bag contaminated with a sick child’s breath.
The reasoning behind this? These parents want their kids to get chickenpox while they are still young, so that they get “lifelong immunity” from the disease. Which is exactly how a vaccine works.
Although it might not give lifelong immunity, vaccines will help to stave off chicken pox. Vaccines also don’t carry the the risk of possibly serious side effects and complications.
It’s very likely that parents who are bringing their kids to chicken pox parties are actually risking exposing their kids to unnecessary discomfort. There’s also the huge risk of health complications, should the virus morph into other infections.
A vaccination, on the other hand, offers protection from the disease. Although the vaccine is basically a weaker version of the real virus, most of the time it doesn’t cause any chickenpox symptoms. Even if it does, these symptoms are rare (in 2% of cases) and much, much milder than the real thing.
Kids who do get the vaccine may also (very rarely – in 10% of cases) grow up and get chicken pox. If that happens, they have less severe symptoms and faster recovery than those who didn’t get the vaccine while young.
Also, the chicken pox vaccine doesn’t have any serious side effects. At best it will cause a few minor symptoms only, unless your child has an allergy to the vaccine.
On the other hand, exposing kids to the very real and dangerous side effects from chicken pox can be much more severe than a vaccine’s side effects. Here are some reasons why getting exposed to chicken pox is not a good idea compared to vaccination.
- Normally chickenpox isn’t a serious disease. The disease lasts five to 10 days. Still, in some people, it can be severe and deadly, causing issues like pneumonia, encephalitis, and sepsis. Take the past: in 1995, before the chickenpox vaccine was made public in America, about 100 people died and over 11,000 were hospitalised annually from the disease.
- Vaccinating your child for chickenpox is also important in controlling its spread. The disease can spread from person-to-person through the fluid from blisters, or even by breathing the air they sneeze or cough. That’s why kids with chickenpox can’t attend school or day care for at least seven days, until their blisters are dry and sealed with a crust.
- What’s worse, is that chickenpox can bring about deadly symptoms to certain groups of people without vaccination. Namely these are infants, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with poor immune responses. It would be devastating to expose your child to chickenpox and coincidentally meet someone who could suffer badly from it — even die.
- At the most basic level, chicken pox results in a very itchy rash accompanied by at least 200 blisters all over the body. Other symptoms include headaches, coughs, fever, and irritability. Even if the disease isn’t life threatening, the child will still suffer through five to 10 days of distress.
In short, chicken pox parties are a bad idea. Instead, get your child vaccinated and shield them from preventable illnesses. After all, parties should be full of fun and games, not sick kids and contagious viruses.