Chicken Pox is a highly contagious and dangerous virus also known as Varicella Zoster Virus or VZV. Before 1995 when the Varicella vaccine became available, 100 – 150 died each year from the disease according to the CDC.
Although most children now do get the vaccine, there are a growing number who are not vaccinated for any disease. This can lead to some serious consequences for our population.
Here are clinical facts that support why the Varicella vaccine is 100% better for your child than a “chicken pox party.”
Chicken Pox Facts
Those who become infected with chickenpox will experience a fever, tiny itchy blisters, and tiredness, which lasts for about a week. The virus can be easily spread by touching the blisters, an infected person coughing, sneezing, or even breathing near you.
The Varicella vaccine should be given in two doses. The first one should be given at 12 – 15 months, and the second dose at age 4 – 6 years old.
The CDC and the American Association of Pediatrics both report that unvaccinated children over the age of 13 who have never had chickenpox can still get the vaccine. They suggest that the doses be spaced 28 days apart.
Not everyone should get the Varicella vaccine. Those with weakened immune systems, those with cancer, and anyone who is pregnant or feeling ill should not get the shot.
Say NO to Chicken Pox Parties
There is a growing phenomenon on social media of intentionally allowing unvaccinated children to be infected by others. Some parents believe that skipping the vaccine is safer than letting their children be infected. The CDC and the AAP both disagree.
Allowing children to be exposed to the full strength Varicella Zoster Virus creates a much greater risk of serious side effects and complications than the mild dose received in a vaccination.
Unvaccinated children can be susceptible to severe skin rashes, infection of the lungs (pneumonia), swelling of the brain (encephalitis), and spinal meningitis. Blood stream, bone, and joint infections are also possible.
Side effects of the vaccine are mild and infrequent. There may be swelling at the injection site for a few days or a mild case of the virus. More serious side effects from the vaccine are very rare.
Benefits of the Varicella Vaccine
It is believed that 90% of children are protected from chickenpox today. This benefits the general population in the following ways:
- Babies are at a lower risk for chickenpox.
- Prevents the illness from becoming severe.
- Reduces the risk of serious complications.
- Protects adults with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, and those with serious health conditions.
- A milder dose of the virus in the form of a vaccine is much less risky than the full effects of a “chickenpox party” with all its complications.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about the Varicella vaccine and your child’s individual situation. To contact Elmwood Pediatrics, please call (585) 244-9720.