Chickenpox seems to be the disease that no one takes seriously. I was under the impression that it wasn’t that bad before I began advocating for vaccines. I would ask Dr. Solari, “Why did they even make a chickenpox vaccine? We shouldn’t be encouraged to get a vaccine for something that isn’t dangerous!” But I was so wrong. Chickenpox should not be taken so lightly. It is a serious disease and is capable of causing long term problems. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
Most of us probably know the common symptoms caused by chickenpox: small, itchy, red spots all over a person’s body and may be accompanied with a fever. We also know how contagious chickenpox is! The things we may not know are the serious complications that can stem from chickenpox. These can include (but are not limited to) dehydration, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and sepsis (infection in the blood stream). These complications are serious and many times require hospitalization to be treated. Sometimes, even death can occur.
In the many discussions that I’ve seen, or even sometimes been a part of, I’ve frequently heard the argument that the chickenpox vaccine is just unnecessary because the disease is so mild. These kinds of statements are usually followed up with a phrase such as, “I had chickenpox when I was a kid and I’m completely fine!” This is kind of faulty thinking is referred to as “hasty generalization”. Just because the person making this statement did not have any complications from the chickenpox does not mean that is the truth for everyone. The CDC says, “Before the vaccine, about 4 million people would get chickenpox each year in the United States. Also, about 10,600 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died each year as a result of chickenpox.” So maybe the one person in the discussion did not have any problems other than typical chickenpox symptoms, but these numbers tell a much different story! Since the release of the vaccine in 1995, the incidents of chickenpox have declined more than 82%.
On the CDC’s website, there are many links to stories of healthy children who contracted chickenpox and experienced severe symptoms, some resulting in death. Recently, I’ve heard talk of “Pox Parties” where parents will take their otherwise healthy children to friend’s house where the friend has chickenpox in order to infect their own child with chickenpox so that they can gain immunity. But this causes unnecessary suffering to the child and opens the door, not just to chickenpox, but to the many other possible complications from chickenpox that could require your child to be hospitalized or worse. There is no need to take such a risk just to gain immunity when there is just a simple vaccine that will prevent the chickenpox all together. If you are invited to a “Pox Party”, just say no.
There are also some who believe that healthy children will not experience a bad case of chickenpox and will definitely not have any complications from it. Although it is true that children who have chronic illnesses are at a higher risk for complications from the chickenpox (and other vaccine-preventable diseases), it is not true that healthy children are exempt from complications. By clicking here, you can read a heart-wrenching story about a healthy five-year-old boy who died a tragic death from chickenpox (Warning: the article is detailed and very difficult to read due to the suffering this child went through). Hearing stories such as these, I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to risk their child suffering as this boy did when we now have medical advancements that can protect our children from these types of diseases.
It takes extreme amounts of time and money before vaccines are released to the public. Medical experts and scientists are not going to waste their time and money developing a measure of prevention for diseases that “aren’t that bad”. They put their time and money into developing ways to prevent the serious diseases that can cause severe suffering and death. Even if the chance of severe complications from chickenpox is small, there is still the chance that it could happen to any of our children. Why take that risk for your kids? Keep them up-to-date on ALL of their vaccines. If you aren’t sure why a certain vaccine is recommended (or even required for school), call our office and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Solari or Fonda who can give you the hard facts about why each and every vaccine is vitally important.