The problem with chicken pox parties
There’s a new sort of party doing the rounds, and it won’t be one where you come away with a goody bag and a slice of cake. In fact, you may come away with something a little more undesirable – but for some parents, that’s what makes them the best sort of gathering their child could go to.
We’re talking about chicken pox parties – controversial get-togethers where a child suffering from chicken pox is surrounded by their friends in the hope of spreading the chicken pox virus and infecting them. This way, the parent knows what’s coming, and has a little more control over the infection. But is it morally right to deliberately expose your child to chicken pox?
Chicken pox parties prove how easy it is to spread the virus between children. The pox virus is remarkably easy to contract – a simple cough, sneeze or sometimes simple touch is enough to spread the germs between children. Then, you sit back and wait for the tell tale signs of infection: itchy, red blisters which turn into the familiar spots associated with chicken pox. Break out the calamine lotion – it’s chicken pox time.
So why are so many people up in arms about chicken pox parties? Because it’s not really necessary. A vaccine has been around since 1995, meaning it’s not necessary to expose your child to an active infection, and yourself to many days of being the sole nurse to an itchy, unhappy child. Prior to the vaccine, about 90% of us caught chicken pox before the age of 20, which was the best way as chicken pox is considerably more serious in adults.
Chicken pox isn’t just a case of being a bit itchy for a few days. There are actually some very nasty complications that can come with it. Granted, they’re very rare, but it’s a nasty virus which can induce side effects like pneumonia, encephalitis, toxic shock syndrome and all sorts of bacterial skin infections.
One new development in the pox spreading market across the pond is the chicken pox lollipop. You can find online shops which promise to sell you a regular lollipop which has the chicken pox virus contained in it. You give the lollipop to your child, and they consume the virus. Doctors have expressed concerns about this method though, because you just don’t know what else might be contained within the sugary lolly. On top of that, would you really trust someone willing to send a live virus through the regular post?
Whatever your view on chicken pox, and whenever or however your little one develops it, prepare for some tough days ahead. They’ll be uncomfortable and upset, and if they’re school aged, you’ll have to keep them at home. If you work, you’ll need to find a willing childcare provider, which could be difficult as many employers refuse to expose their staff to the virus, as it can cause problems for pregnant women. If you can get your child immunised against chicken pox, you’re going to save yourself ten days of sickness, and have less suffering and no worries about the unpleasant side effects which chicken pox can bring. Take charge of the chicken pox and stay in control of the situation.