Would you have a chicken pox party?

Katherine - posted on 04/11/2012 ( 36 moms have responded )

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When Leslie Richman's two-year-old twins contracted the chickenpox, she considered her options — be quarantined in her house for up to a month or, host a party, allowing other unvaccinated children to lollipop lick, germ breathe and touch their way to shot-free chicken pox immunity.



She opted to party.



After more than a decade of vaccination, chicken pox parties are gaining steam again, especially in cities like Boston and New York where middle-class parents, wary of potentially unnecessary vaccinations, are opting for their children to earn their immunity to chickenpox the old-fashioned way — tucked into bed, covered in Calamine lotion.



"I tried to see it as an opportunity to offer people a choice for their child other than getting poked with a needle," says Richman, the Boston-based CEO of Forget Me Not Tots who had her sons on a staggered vaccination schedule that left them vulnerable to the highly contagious wild chickenpox virus — an ailment that is now so unusual, that the Richmans' own pediatrician had to call in several others to confirm the diagnosis.



A person who has chickenpox can transmit the virus for up to 48 hours before the blister-like pox appear, and they remain contagious until all spots crust over. Vaccinated people are usually immune to the virus, but so are those who have had the virus. After the child has contracted chickenpox, his or her body creates antibodies that are stored for a lifetime. Critics of the vaccine argue that this natural immunity is more time-tested than the just-over-a-decade old vaccine.



"We did not mean to end up with the chickenpox," says Richman whose children could have been exposed at the grocery store, coffee shop or even on the subway. It enters through the upper airway like common cold and flu viruses. "But I am glad we did."



Prior to 1995, parties like these were commonplace. At first, the viral infection causes minor respiratory symptoms; it then enters the bloodstream in increasing numbers, traveling all over the body. A week to three weeks later, the body begins to make antibodies against it and that is when the fever begins, along with fatigue, stomachache, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. Many of those with the active illness think they have nothing more than a cold while they are the most contagious.



Though it was unplanned, the virus felt like a "rare gift," says Richman who sent an email invitation to her Boston mothers' listserv and was overwhelmed by the response. "The next day, I had 350 emails, most of them asking if I was insane.



The haters have a point, say most doctors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two doses of the vaccine and ninety-four percent of pediatricians offer it. "Getting the disease has a worse consequence than getting the vaccine. Ten percent of unvaccinated kids will have to see a doctor because of the disease," says Robert "Doug" Hardy, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Medical Center Dallas and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Richman experienced this herself with her two sons. "My first son was just not that sick," she explains. But her second son ended up with an infection that landed him in the Emergency Room.



"Complications for unvaccinated kids are dehydration, vomiting and pneumonia," says Dr. Hardy. "One dose of the vaccine is ninety percent effective against severe cases of the disease."



Prior to 1995, when the varicella vaccine — the vaccine that prevents chickenpox — became widely available, parties like the one at the Richmans would have been commonplace with the infected child as the belle of the ball playing with the children whose parents were hoping for the virus to strike while it was still a relatively innocuous — if annoying and itchy — ailment.



Twenty-five years ago, I went to a few of my own. My mother had me all but make out with my neighbors in order to contract the disease, but to no avail. It was not until I was eleven — and then completely by accident — that I actually came down with the pox. "There are no guarantees, even with something as contagious as the chickenpox," says Richman.



http://www.babble.com/kid/kid-health-saf...







I actually remember doing this before vaccines. My mom would try to find kids who had the chicken pox and take my brother and I over there! I got it so bad, I mean it was in every crevice of my body, up my nose, in my ass, EVERYWHERE!



Now? HELL NO! Don't they know it can cause shingles later in life? My dad had them. It was excruciating. Not to mention the strain these days is so much stronger. Is this lady crazy or what?

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[deleted account]

I think any parent who deliberately tries to give their child a disease is a bad parent and should not be allowed continued custody. There are vaccines, they work, they are not the poisonous crap anti-vaxers say they are.

Making your child sick on purpose is psycho.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/14/2012

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No I would not do this. I think it is barbaric and out dated. I would never intentionally get my child sick.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/14/2012

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I have never had it, and will get the vaccination again. Doctor wants me to get a titer first to see if I still have immunity.

[deleted account]

Yes, I would deal with Murphy's Law as I would the same for colds, flu, stomach troubles, etc. I would absolutely never get my son sick on purpose, especially for convenience factors.

[deleted account]

Tracey, I can accept that some people choose not to vaccinate and certainly in the cases of allergies, I would never force the issue - never.

However what I can not now and never will accept is getting a child sick on purpose. It's wrong.

36 Comments

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Sneaky - posted on 04/15/2012

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No - the idea of exposing my children to a virus on purpose???? I don't fucking think so.

Stifler's - posted on 04/15/2012

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And just because you've had it once doesn't mean you should hang out with people who have it without fear.

Stifler's - posted on 04/15/2012

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No and I don't remember my parents deliberately exposing us to it either.

Jennifer - posted on 04/14/2012

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Tena- actually they are around 20. It came out when my son was 3(daughter was a new born) and at the time they wanted all kids 5 and under to get the shot. By the time he entered school they were asking whether he had gotten it. They were refusing entry to anyone who had not had either the vaccine or the chicken pox by the next year, because we had to produce doctor records for my neice. My cousins were 22 and 25 when they had their first out break of shingles, their kids (5 total) were all vaccinated, and between 17 and 12 now. None of them have had the pox, so they are praying none get shingles! I'm hoping it helps, but we won't know for sure for a long while.......................

Jenny - posted on 04/14/2012

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Well I guess I'm a psycho. I exposed my daughter to a cousin who had chicken pox to build up antibodies. It didn't work though, she got them from a classmate a few months ago and so did my son. It was totally minor with a bit of itching, no scars, and they are just fine. A few of the vaccinated classmates got it too. My kids do have all of the other vaccines.



Having said that, I do think it's crazy to get the infected lollipops and stuff like that.

Tee - posted on 04/14/2012

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That is crazy Jennifer, a 98% vaccination rate and that many still got it. I am wondering if they have changed the vaccine since then. My 7 and 2 year old both received the vaccine, it wasn't around until after my oldest had gotten chicken pox twice.



The big question is will they still get shingles later in life. No one is going to know the answer since the oldest kids would only be 17 - 18 today that received the vaccination.

Jennifer - posted on 04/14/2012

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My mom tried to give me and my brother chicken pox. I was carefully protected as an infant when my older sister got it(I believe I was 4 months) because my parents did not want me to get it that young, but after I turned 4 and my baby brother was 2, she exposed us at every chance. We never got it as children, I wish we had! I was 5 months pregnant when my neice, who I babysat for, came down with it! Man was I scared! I didn't get it, but my brother did, and though it wasn't life threatening, it was bad! He missed 3 weeks of work.



I refused the vaccine for my daughter, as it was BRAND NEW, but my son got it. Two years later my daughter got them. We assumed my son would not........Well, they ended up shutting down the school, cause almost every kid got it. And they had a 98% vaccination rate! I also ended up with them. My son's case, even with the vaccination was no better than my daughters. Lasted as long, had just as many spots, was just as ill. Yeah, I was really convinced that shot helped!! None of my other kids have had the vaccination, they all got chicken pox the natural way, as did many of my friends kids who did get the shot. As to getting shingles later in life- I am WELL aware of that. My gramma and two cousins get shingles. The doctors can NOT say that the vaccine keeps you from getting shingles, as it is caused by a low-functioning immune system (hell, they can't say the shot keeps you from getting the pox!). My cousins are very young to be getting shingles, and the doctor thinks it is a genetic because my gramma also strated getting them very young. Stress plays more of a role in shingles than anything else.

Tee - posted on 04/14/2012

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I can see where you are coming from Tracey and you do what you feel you need to do. I know that Murphy's Law can suck. I was constantly exposed to chicken pox - you are MOST contagious 48 hours before there is evidence of the illness. My mom used to babysit my cousins after school and they got it, I was still young enough to be sharing a bedroom with my brother when he had it and they made me still sleep there and I was exposed again at around 20 when my oldest son's cousin had it. I never got it.



I also know the dangers of catching it late in life. I caught it when I was 24 and it almost killed me. One of the side effects is a very uncommon strain of pneumonia. Between having cold and fluid in my lungs and pox on my lungs and heart. I almost was a gonner. I could barely breath. They had me on a nebulizer to try and clear and open up my lungs. I was sleepy (so I thought) and just wanted to nap. THANK GOD the nurse saw I was trying to go to sleep and came over and literally smack the living poo out of me. I was not going to sleep - I was dying. The amount of oxygen in my system almost nothing. The pulsox reading was coming in at around 69. Normal is at 94 - 99. Smacking me was just enough to get me to take a big breath and jump start my system so to speak. I was in the hospital's ICU unit for 3 weeks and had one of the worst cases that the doctors had ever seen.



Also know that depending on age they DO NOT recommend the vaccine. For older adults that have never had it good luck. My father has been exposed to it but never had it. (proven through blood test) When I had it they asked his doctor about the vaccine and his doctor said no. Because it is a live virus injection there is a change of catching it from the shot or being around anyone that has just gotten the shot. We found that out the hard was when my grandmother got shingles after holding my son who had just gotten the vaccine.

Tracey - posted on 04/14/2012

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What would you do in my position, your child cannot have the vaccine but you want them to have immunity, do you do nothing and leave it up to nature knowing it may affect holidays, family plans even in my case lower grades in exams which meant I could not take the higher education route I wanted - because sods law says if your kids are going to catch anything it will be at the most inconvenient time possible, or if the neighbours kid has it would you take the chance and have a playdate. I know we are not going to agree on this but can you see where I am coming from?

Tracey - posted on 04/13/2012

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We don't vaccinate against chickenpox in UK.
There are about 6 - 700,000 cases in British children per year
Number of chickenpox related hospital admissions = 6,700 (1% of cases)
Number of chickenpox deaths = around 4 - 9 (0.00001% of cases) mostly in adults and most have compromised immune systems, yet we are told that introducing this vaccine will save hundreds of lives per year (per decade maybe).
I'm not making light of the fact that people do die from this and obviously if immunity problems affect your family then you should vaccinate. I have been advised by 2 doctors that due to allergies and previous reactions that we should not have all vaccines so in my case if I wanted my kids to be immune to chickenpox then it might be better to catch it naturally.

Incidentally UK vaccines given before age 5 = 28
USA vaccines given before age 5 = 36
As American children get 8 more jabs than ours does make them healthier than ours?

Tee - posted on 04/13/2012

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Now I am wondering what are the chances of a young adult catching chicken pox later in life. There really is a lot of UNknown with the vaccine considering how long it has been available. We already know that with a mild case of chicken pox it can be caught again. Our children (most of them anyway depending on age) are the first generation to be vaccinated so there really is a lot of unknown.

[deleted account]

Yes, if you plan on making your child sick ON PURPOSE then yes you're a psycho parent. I'm not unsympathetic to your situation but making one's child sick on purpose is wrong. There are decades upon decades of evidence to show that vaccines are safe and effective. Making a child sick on purpose is wrong and I make no apologies for my strong feelings in this matter.

Tracey - posted on 04/13/2012

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Thanks Jen, I'm a psychotic bad parent so who wants custody, I've got a 15 year old emo who thinks she knows anything, a 13 year old with a mental age of 3 with several disabilities which can't possibly be caused by the lovely little vaccines which don't harm anyone and a 12 year old who has just discovered hormones.
Anyone interested?

[deleted account]

I can't believe that any parent would put their child through the chicken pox while they are young on the basis of "it's uncomfortable but they'll survive". This disgusts me. Why would we want to put our children through something like that when there are vaccines available that prevent these illnesses? I thought my 20 month old had chicken pox a week ago, It turns out it was something similar and the treatment and everything was basically the same. After seeing what he went through I felt like the worst parent for not having him vaccinated when I should. His brother and sister were both done and they got the illness very mildly. Vaccinate people. Why put your child through it if they don't have to?

Tracey - posted on 04/12/2012

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My mum sent me and my brother to play with anyone who had chickenpox, mumps, german measles. Didn't work and I got chickenpox the week before my O Levels (UK equivalent of SATS) had to sit them in isolation while feeling very itchy - not fun.
Don't know if the lady is crazy - she is not rounding up the local children and forcing them to visit her kids. It is up to the parents whether they have an itchy and scratchy playdate or get the vaccine and I would not judge any parent who felt they were acting in their child's best interest.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/11/2012

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I have a hole on the end of my nose but I have freckles (redhair), so only I notice it...I hope! ;)

Katherine - posted on 04/11/2012

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I have a keloid on my neck from a chicken pox. I had to have a shot of cortisone there because it was so swollen and deep. Not fun!

[deleted account]

i personally would rather my daughter get chicken pox the old fashioned way, but in my area it's mandatory to be vaccinated for it before school age. i should have told them to stuff it, though. if she didn't get it before school anyway we could have just waited until she was three or four. sigh...



i don't know about a party, though. i'm not big on parties, lol. xD



ETA: i got the pox when i was maybe just starting school. i had it pretty bad, but i don't remember much except that there was this one on my left side that itched soooo bad and now i have a white scar there where i can't feel anything when i touch it BUT when i lay on my left side that's the spot where i feel my heartbeat the worst and it is so annoying, i can barely sleep on that side.

Jodi - posted on 04/11/2012

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"Don't they know it can cause shingles later in life?"

So can the vaccine.....just saying.

And how, exactly, is the strain "stronger" these days? I'm not sure that has any scientific basis.

Having said that, however, I do believe this woman was irresponsible.

Katherine - posted on 04/11/2012

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I got chicken pox at 12 and my wisdom teeth removed at 16, so I was lucky. I ALMOST had to have my tonsils removed in my 20's.

Tee - posted on 04/11/2012

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Let's just say I was real good at having kiddie issues in my 20's - the next year I had to have my tonsils taken out. That takes a while to heal when your grown to.

Tee - posted on 04/11/2012

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I had them everywhere on and in....never knew until then you could even get them on internal organs.



Edited to add

No I should never get them again - I had a very severe case and it is worse with age. And if I ever did get them again like the first time it would kill me now - was very close to death with them then.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/11/2012

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Holy crap Tena! On your heart and lungs?? OMG - That was a bad case. You're free to never get them again, I would suspect. ;)

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/11/2012

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All depends on how bad you had them...;) If you had them in your ass - it sounds like we both did - you're probably OK. lol

Tee - posted on 04/11/2012

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I know my oldest had them twice. The first time he had them he only had about 6 little pox on his chest and the doctor told me that he would most likely get them again. When he got them the 2nd time I caught it. I can totally relate to having them in private places....talk about an itch you can't scratch. I even ended up with them on my heart and lungs. The doctors said mine was one of the worst cases they had ever scene. I was 24 when I had them.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/11/2012

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Absolutely NOT. I would much prefer for them to get it when their time came. My son has been vaccinated, though.

I was 18 when I got chicken pox. yes, it was uncomfortable but I survived. I had them bad too. I had them in my mouth, ears and in very private places.

I am not for "making" my kids sick. There is a vaccine, it has proven to work effectively, I am there with my sons shirt arm rolled up. ;)

My daughter had them when she was 4. She had them moderately. She did not end up in ER but she was sick for a few days.

You know, even if you had them once, does not mean you cannot get them again. It all depends on how bad you had them the first time. It is a complete myth, that you cannot get them again. Research it, you'll see. ;)

Tee - posted on 04/11/2012

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My younger 2 got the vaccine (didn't want to chance anything with them, they both were preemies) and my oldest actually had them. The only reason we did not let him be near kids that had it was because I lived with my parents at the time and my father has never had it (proven by blood test) he actually moved out of the house when my son had it in fear. I caught if from my son and ended up in the hospitals intensive care for 3 weeks.

Elfrieda - posted on 04/11/2012

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Yes, absolutely. My son is two, it's the perfect time. I'm keeping my ears peeled for kids getting them, because we'll be going visiting.

Shingles comes as a result of the chicken pox virus living in the body, so getting the vaccine OR getting chicken pox is the same result - both are better than getting chicken pox as an adult. If my son doesn't get the chicken pox naturally by age 6 or 7, I'll get him the vaccine because after that it can just be too uncomfortable.



We had them when I was 6 and my sister was 2. I was miserable and my sister barely noticed it. I've seen the same thing with my nieces. As toddlers it hardly bothered them.

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