Itching to host a chickenpox party instead of vaccinating your child? You may be putting your child in danger, according to doctors.
Chickenpox parties, gatherings organized by parents between at least one chickenpox infected child and healthy children in order to expose them to the varicella-zoster virus, could have fatal consequences.
“It’s very rare, but chickenpox pneumonia can be fatal,” Dr. Daryl M. Isaacs, who practices general medicine in New York City, told The Post. “Before the vaccine, there were instances of mortality and motility with chickenpox.”
In addition to chickenpox pneumonia, other complications from the virus include bacterial infections of the skin, infection or inflammation of the brain, bleeding problems and sepsis.
Pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert told Business Insider that chickenpox exposure could lead to serious consequences even among healthy children.
“It’s impossible to predict. Some kids will just get a few [chicken pox], some will die. You just don’t know, so we vaccinate everyone [we can],” Burgert said.
“[It is] incorrect that getting the natural disease is going to make your immunity stronger so you don’t need a vaccine, which is a much safer option. People don’t realize that the reason we made vaccines is because they can’t kill kids.”
Prior to the chickenpox vaccine’s use in 1995, so-called chickenpox parties were an accepted method of exposing children to the virus so they wouldn’t get it later in life. After the vaccine came out, these parties diminished in number but appear to be on the rise again, particularly among parents who opt out of vaccinating their children
Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican from Kentucky, made headlines last week when he told radio station WKCT that he intentionally exposed his children to chickenpox by sending them to a sick neighbor’s house.
“They got the chickenpox on purpose because we found a neighbor that had it and I went and made sure every one of my kids was exposed to it, and they got it,” Bevin said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
“They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against purposely exposing children to chickenpox.
“There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be so it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child to someone with the disease,” the CDC said on its website.
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