By Maria Smith
One of the worst times for parents is when they have to take their kids into the doctor's office knowing they must get shots. Parents worry about the pain of the needle (and their child's reaction to that pain), but also about what is in the vaccine shot and how their child will react to it.
After a now-debunked 1998 paper by a British scientist claiming vaccinations caused autism, many parents fear any vaccination and have opted out of them for their child. Instead, they search for "natural" ways for their child to gain a resistance to common childhood diseases. They have their child ingest specific vitamins and minerals that are supposed to raise the child's immunity levels.
Some parents throughout the United States have organized "chicken pox parties" to introduce the virus to their child in a "controlled" setting. Some have even gone to the extremes of buying chicken pox-tainted items like lollipops to pass the disease on to their children.
Many parents believe since they had chicken pox and survived, that it is no big deal. They see it as a mild, uncomfortable virus but nothing to be afraid of and certainly nothing to vaccinate against. Experts disagree. The Centers for Disease Control equate chicken pox parties to playing Russian roulette with a child's health.
Before the chicken pox (or varicella as it is properly called) vaccine became available for the general public, chicken pox infections were the cause of 10,000 hospitalizations and more than 100 deaths each year in the United States.
Parents who expose their child to a "wild" case of chicken pox through these parties put them at risk for a severe case of the disease and they will have a higher chance of being hospitalized or even dying. The children who do not get a life-threatening form of chicken pox still have to deal with the mild form of the disease.
Typically they will miss a week of school (and the caretaker will miss a week of work), and they have to contend with the excessive itchiness, fever, and general malaise that comes with the virus. These children can also spread chicken pox to other unvaccinated children, which is particularly bad for infants, pregnant women and those with suppressed immune systems who are not able to get the vaccine.
Though seeing a child go through a battery of shots is uncomfortable for both the child and the parent, it can save the child from severe complications later on. All leading experts, doctors, and health organizations agree that vaccines are safe and necessary, and that children should follow the schedule their doctor and health officials advices.
HistoryofVaccines.org. Web. 5 September 2012. "Top 20 Questions about Vaccination".
Theatlantic.com. Web. Published November 25, 2011. "The Chickenpox Party: Parents caught infecting kids with virus."
Reviewed September 6, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
By Maria Smith