chickenpox parties? CHICKENPOX PARTIES?


The gist of which is that parents in Pittsburgh are having Chickenpox parties to intentionally expose kids who haven’t yet had the disease to those with active infections. The idea being that if the healthy kids get it now, they won’t need the new vaccine (which by virtue of it being new automatically raises valid questions about its safety). Many school systems require proof of the illness or the vaccine prior to enrolling.

I see where they are coming from, but I just have a hard time with this. Although in most cases chickenpox is a mild disease that causes no long term harm, prior to the vaccine being available there were an average of “11,000 hositalizations and 100 deaths in the U.S” from it every year (cite).

We had to face this decision recently, and after a lot of research and a recommendation from our pediatrician (who is not working for the drug companies and who spent a lot of time researching this himself) we decided to get the vaccine for our daughter (CDC Vaccine FAQ).

Am I wrong for being a little freaked out about intentional exposure to diesease?

Note to mods: I had no clue what forum to put this in. It could easily fins a home in GD, IMHO, or the Pit. Feel free to help my little thread migrate to its proper home.

The parties themselves must be something.

“Johnny, go play with Samantha”
“But she’s got cooooties”
“That’s the whole effin point kid, now go…!”

This is a little weird, I think. I have, I think, a healthy fear of vaccines for my kids–I want to be made fully aware of the risks, and I certainly don’t always take the doctor’s word that the innoculations are safe. But when Priscilla was pregnant with Lisa Marie II, we gave Lisa Marie I the chicken pox vaccine, only because we did not want the fetus/infant potentially exposed to chicken pox.

Even bearing in mind that every vaccine poses potential risks, I think I would still be more comfortable with a vaccine than deliberately exposing my child to a painful and difficult illness.

There are those whose fear of vaccines is greatly out of proportion to their risks. I’m thinking these folks who want their child to get sick rather than take the “risk” of an innoculation are among them.

No, everyone in my neighborhood did the same thing. Getting the disease is a guarantee of lifetime immunity. No one knows if the vaccine will confer lifetime immunity and getting it as an adult can be extremely serious.

According to this site:

The “case fatality” for the general population is 6.7/100,000. Yes, just .007%.

I am also suspicious of the motives of the vaccine companies, I find their commercials manipulative and deceptive in the extreme.

The decision whether or not to vaccinate against chickenpox is not an easy one. Yes, some people do have serious reactions to diseases. Others have serious reactions to vaccinations. Personally, having looked at the available information, I’ve decided to hold off until I absolutely have to (i.e. kindergarten if it is required or 8 or 9 if she hasn’t been exposed by then) and hope for exposure.

The reason that people are having parties is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get exposure. Many (and in some areas, most) children are being vaccinated at a very young age, so kids aren’t spreading it around like they used to. When my daughter was 4 and a friend came down with it we had him over to play with her and another friend so they could catch it.

Good God, what a fabulously nineteenth century concept!

Actually, for parents who don’t want to get their kids vaccinated, it’s not a bad idea. All joking aside, I can quite honestly imagine my mother doing something like that.

I mean, most kids are gonna get chickenpox anyhow, and you might as well get it overwith as soon as possible. Then you could arrange sufficient convalescing time ahead of time, make sure the kids have homework and coloring books to work on as they recover, etc.

On a side note, neither my sister nor I ever had chickenpox. Every spring, I live in fear that somebody’s juicily virulent offspring will infect me… and chickenpox puts much more of a hurtin’ on you when you’re an adult! Heh. Knock wood.

But it leads to shingles later in life because the virus lies dormant in your nerves but breaks out when your immune system is compromised by stress, fatigue, or steroids. It causes pain, extreme itching, and the potential for nerve damage. I wouldn’t wish it OR chicken pox on my kids so they were protected from sick kids until the vaccine was perfected. The vaccine is now very effective and safe. Those parents are both sadistic and dumb as rocks.

These aren’t new. Before the vaccine, people used to send their kids over to play with infected kids. Get it all over with at the same time, and when they are young.

My doctor doesn’t push the Varicella vaccine. In fact, he recommended against it last year. This year he was just ambivalent. We’re hoping enough kids are still unvaccinated that Cranky Jr will get chickenpox before he starts kindergarten. Otherwise he’ll have to get it (state law). Actually, that would be the better outcome–he doesn’t get it, but gets the vaccine later in life. It’ll have been on the market longer then, with more kids getting it, and my kid’s immune system will be that much older. I don’t want Cranky Jr to suffer through this disease, but I really trust my doctor’s practice. They made the right call on rotavirus (wouldn’t give that one to kids, and then it was pulled it off the market when problems were found). I’m not criticizing anyone who decided differently, of course–we all pick different things to be conservative about. I let Cranky Jr eat anything that drops on the floor, but with vaccines we’re a little more cautious. Just our little bugaboo.

I know we have a discussion about this in Great Debates within the last six months.

And Creaky, I missed every childhood outbreak I was exposed to–even when my own sibling had it! Then I caught it in college from a girl in my dorm I never even had immediate contact with. Go figure. It sucks to have it as an adult. Misery, misery, misery.

Ouch! The tar on that brush is HOT! Ouch! Ouch! runs around wildly dodging it

Sadistic rock checking in.

My youngest is 10. When she was quite small, some friends of ours’ kids came down with CP, so we made a point of going over there. (“Go lick Suzie’s oozing sores, Billy! Help her pick off the scabs.”)

My 2 oldest got it right away, and then gave it to their youngest sibling.

Sure, shingles is no treat. But we wanted to avoid scenarios that happened to my sisters.
-First case in point, on a camping trip, about 12 kids are wrestling around in a tent for some while, after which one parent notices the first pock(sp?) on their kid. Man, did it get chilly around there fast.
-Second case, my sister’s family is all packed up for a big plane trip to Fla. On their way to the airport, they notice a blister on their daughter.

Sure, shingles is no treat. Nor is it guaranteed. And CP as an adult sucks, and the vaccine is less than perfect. The one thing we COULD control, was that we would get the initial inconvenience over with as conveniently as possible.

Hey! This sedimentary lifestyle suits me. I hope I don’t take it for granite.

But the slight risk of imperfection is nothing compared with the ABSOLUTELY REAL risks and discomfort of chickenpox and the very real possibility of shingles. To be honest, I thought you people were interested in ENDING ignorance, yet, IF you did that sometime in the past couple years, after the vaccine had become available and the risks had been properly assessed in the real world, you subjected your own children to unnecessary illness because of some relatively baseless fear of vaccination. I’ve lost a lot of respect for you.

Okay, I’m going to pretend that the “sadistic and dumb as rocks” comment didn’t happen…

The vaccination does not protect you from shingles. That was, indeed, one of the hopes when it was being developed, but all those vaccinated kids will be at risk for shingles (an amazingly painful disease often brought on by stress/exhaustion/high amounts of UV exposure in people who may be less healthy to begin with) just the same.

Creaky, can’t you get vaccinated now? I am all for the vaccination being used for older children who haven’t managed to get exposed. CP is a serious disease in adults and is, to my mind, certainly more risky than the vaccination.

There is no evidence that the live-virus vaccine protects against shingles at this point (since you are introducing the live virus, there is a possibility shingles may come on later in life). It is an unknown quantity. The vaccine is only about %85 effective. No one knows how long it lasts. Boosters throughout life may be needed to maintain immunity.

This issue is a highly debateable one. A completely different issue than vaccinating against highly fatal childhood diseases such as diptheria (IMHO). There are arguements on both sides. You should settle down, dropzone.

OK, my kid has had both the vaccine and the disease. He got the vaccine at 3. He caught the disease at 4. So the vaccine does NOT prevent chicken pox. However, when he did have it, it was so mild I wasn’t even sure he had it. There were only like 4-5 sores total and it lasted maybe 3 days. I do attribute the extreme mildness of the disease to the vaccine.

For me it was probably 8 years ago.
How irresponsible was I, drop?
Hey, my desk chair tilts back and forth. Guess it is appropriate that I’m sitting in a rock-er. :wink:

Aside: my dad and mom-in-law both had shingles. According to them, it was incredibly painful.

I have no problem with people avoiding vaccinating their children with a new and insufficiently tested vaccine, especially for a nonfatal disease like chickenpox. Hell, I did it, too. My problem is with parents who would, after the vaccine had been in use for a while, or even before, when there was the possibility of an effective vaccine on the horizon, purposely expose their children to a fairly nasty disease because of some poorly-founded fear of vaccination, ignorance, or a desire to schedule the disease in order to not screw up the trip to Disneyland.

Thanks for the info about shingles. Either we or the anthraxphobes have completely locked up the CDC so I can’t learn more.

I saw that they were working on a vaccine when my oldest (she’s 16) was a youngun. I kept her away from sick kids until I was comfortable with the vaccine, which was about a year ago. You could have done the same. Eight years ago the vaccine was nearing production, so I’d say you were pretty irresponsible. Sorry.

My grandma (age 93) got shingles a few years ago in the weirdest place imaginable - inside her eye socket. The disease literally ate away her eyeball and now she has a donor eye. So shingles can harm you in other ways.

I had chicken pox when I was six, and the only nasty thing about the whole thing was that I had to miss school; my brother caught it from me (he was 12 at the time) and was absolutely miserable for a few weeks. I personally would try to get my (theoretical) kids infected when they are very small and can’t remember, and if you can’t, give the vaccine to an older child.

drop, I think there is room for subjectivity and opinion on this issue. As I already gabbed about, I have an entire practice of mainstream, pro-vaccination doctors here in Ann Arbor who consider this particular vaccine to be still in an experimental stage. Perhaps you have access to facts that their practice doesn’t. I rather choose to believe that it’s still up for debate and there can be valid differences of opinion on this.

goes back to banging sticks together for entertainment

My son was exposed to chicken pox three times before he finally caught them when he was 5 and in kindergarten. Twice the exposure was intentional by me. I didn’t get chicken pox until I was in 5th grade, and it was torture.

In his kindergarten classroom, the split between vaccinated and non vaccinated kids was about 50-50, an almost perfect split down the middle. Nearly half the kids with the vaccine caught chicken pox anyway, some had severe cases and some very slight. I wonder what the risk for shingles is for the kids that were unfortunate enough to get the double whammy of both the vaccination and the virus, or if it makes any difference to their risk factor at all.

When my son was a baby (he’s 8 now) I was given the option whether or not to have him vaccinated for chicken pox, and I chose not to. Our pediatrician had a set of twins about the same age as my buckaroo, and she opted not to have them vaccinated, either. The way she put it was that chicken pox is more of a viral nuisance than a life threatening disease in the vast majority of cases. I asked about shingles, and she said that I could assume that almost every adult I’ve ever known has had chicken pox, but how many of them had shingles? I only know of one, an aunt of mine. But at the time, she was not in the best of health anyway (IIRC it was gallstones, chronic UTI’s, and pnemonia) and was going through a very stressful time in her life (selling her home).