It’s astonishing to me that there are people who are so dead-set against vaccinating their children that they somehow feel it is safer to sicken their children by exposing them to “wild” disease. They argue that the “natural” immunity that their child will get (after suffering a long bout of discomfort and risk of complications from an unpredictable illness) will serve them better in the long run than the immunity that is offered through a vaccine. But they are dangerously mistaken.
It is no secret that vaccine refusers often use social media and various parenting forums to arrange pox parties, facilitate the mailing of infected lollipops to those who live too far to attend, and even advise parents to “pop their child’s chickenpox sores and rub them all over their other children to ensure they all get infected”.
Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up! This is the kind of advice I read on parenting forums all the time.
But, what I don’t understand is what makes these parents think that by infecting their children in this way that they are going to be better off than if they had been vaccinated. The misconception that wild viruses and “natural” immunity are better is just plain wrong. And what makes chickenpox worse is that these parents aren’t avoiding the disease, but rather purposely infecting their children rather than get them vaccinated.
If parents are going to take their chances with the wild varicella virus, it’s important that they first acknowledge the risks. While many people may come through a chickenpox infection with nothing more than a few days of ice baths, gallons of calamine lotion and some unsightly scars that linger once the itchy scabs fall off, there are cases in which varicella can result in serious complications, hospitalizations and even death. While vaccine hesitant parents may proudly declare that they had chickenpox and survived, those that did not are no longer here to tell their story.