Doctors’ warning: Why Chickenpox parties are a bad idea

I quite vividly recall when I got the pox — the experience consisted of plenty of warm oatmeal baths and, of course, my mom reminding me not to scratch at all the pesty, itchy little sores on my body.

Of course, as a rather stubborn 5-year-old I hardly listened, and I have the scars today to remind me of it.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious virus that, when treated, is rather harmless. Still, it’s important to know exactly how to deal with the illness — from prevention to treatment.

Now, doctors are warning against so-called “chicken pox’ parties which parents everywhere should, according to medical experts, avoid like the plague.

Chicken pox ‘parties’ are in fact no new fad — they’ve possibly existed as long as chicken pox has! The concept appears simple and harmless enough: expose your child to the virus to have them contract it when they’re still young.

Having your child infected with the virus before reaching adolescence is seen as ‘safer’ as the virus can turn into a serious infection at that point in time, when it can lead to shingles.

Shingles is caused by the same virus as the chickenpox, but is more painful and risky in older children and adults.

As reported by Denver news station KUSA 9News, a mother describes how she has been “swamped with requests” to have her daughter share her chickenpox.

CHICKEN POX PARTIES | Parents in Boulder are organizing parties to expose their kids to chicken pox. 9NEWS spoke with an…

Posted by 9NEWS (KUSA) on Monday, October 15, 2018

Other parents go for the ‘tenting method’ — gathering several children together in a small, enclosed space to increase the chances of a child contracting the virus.

Such parties and gatherings are at the center of a rather heated debates among parents — but among doctors everywhere the opinion is unanimous: chicken pox parties are not a good idea.

girls in tent
National Park Service

Medical experts, simply put, agree that vaccinating your child is the better and much safer course of action.

“There’s this emphasis on natural immunity being better than vaccine-delivered immunity,” Lindsay Diamond, a molecular biologist, told KUSA 9News

“So, the idea [is] that you would get your child chickenpox, and that would give them this sort of life-long immunity. But you can achieve the same thing, or close to, with the vaccine without serious risks.”

Columbus Air Force Base

According to Lindsay, while parents may have relevant concerns about the vaccine such as allergic reactions, the shot is still a better alternative as it prevents potentially life-threatening complications from the virus, like encephalitis and pneumonia.

Chickenpox can even lead to a risk of sepsis, dehydration, and other bacterial infections.

Wikimedia Commons

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment shares the same view, also warning against chickenpox parties and urging parents everywhere to get their children vaccinated.

“Talk to your doctor about the chicken pox vaccine,” they tweeted. “It’s recommended for kids between 12 and 15 months and again between 4 and 6 years. Older kids and adults who didn’t have the vaccine or the disease also should get two doses.”

“This is all focused on your child, but in reality this is a community issue,” Lindsay said.

“And so these people then go out into their world. They go to the library, they go to the grocery store, they go to schools where there’s likely to be an immunocompromised person. And then you are risking the health of not only your own child, but the public health.”

chickenpox child
Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I think exposing a child to any harmful bacteria/virus is just a bad idea! Even if I thought it was for their own good, how could I possibly bring myself to make my child sick — on purpose?

Please share your own thoughts and share this article with all the parents you know to enlighten them about the dangers of pox parties!