Chicken pox Parties Or Vaccines

Let’s have a talk about chicken pox and vaccines shall we?

In the UK we don’t vaccinate against chicken pox, it’s considered a bit of a right of passage to get your spot on and itch your way to a natural immunity. I’ve watched all three of my children develop chicken pox, suffer their way through them in varying degrees and we’ve even had friends that have asked to come over to “get it out the way” – pretty standard Brit behaviour. Not that we all sit around with a scone (it’s pronounced S-Cone and the jam goes first) and a cuppa watching our kids contract potentially dangerous illnesses. Nope, it’s just chicken pox that gets the elite treatment – a pox party is a thing guys, even in 2019, even when we apparently have vaccines available.

I remember with all of my children posting on my Instagram account that the kids had chicken pox and instantly being lambasted by American followers for not having my kids vaccinated. Que their horror when I told them that we don’t vaccinate kids against chicken pox here, at all, and in fact until Toby I wasn’t even aware there WAS a vaccine. Fast forward from Toby’s splash down to post natal moi sat in the drs office when Edith was due her vaccines and asking whether or not she could or should have the chicken pox vaccine. The Dr actually laughed, full blown chuckles that suggested I was being totally unreasonable and asking that my child have a vaccine against the common cold.

If you’re in the UK and reading this, the consensus is generally that I’m being a bit precious – that there is nothing wrong with chicken pox, it’s just something that is better when the child is younger, hardly dangerous and more just uncomfortable, but let’s dissect that shit shall we?

Chicken pox in itself carries a low fatality rate, however there is the potential. Whilst the rates are low there is a risk to pregnant women, babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, meaning you really are at risk if your toddler (the most likely to catch it) suddenly starts to sport spots when you’re pregnant. Meaning that my mum was in agony with shingles for a week when Edith had chicken pox. Meaning that the very old lady who was doing her weekly shop, or the baby only born a few days ago at the checkout because mum needed lunch box snacks for her older kids, might not make it. At the moment you are offered the vaccine on the NHS if you pose a risk to someone who is undergoing chemotherapy, yet the majority of us are blissfully unaware of the fact that these vaccines even exist or we are laughed at when we suggest getting them.

Chicken pox might be unlikely to cause death, despite the fact that it can raise temperatures high enough to pose that risk, but it isn’t uncommon for people to suffer scarring from chicken pox, an unfortunate and avoidable occurrence. More seriously and perhaps the greatest risk from chicken pox is blisters near and around the eye region that can cause blindness. Agonising blisters around the genitals, in the mouth and sometimes (worryingly and medically concerning) in the throat. Why are we exposing kids to this when we have the vaccines for it? If it’s deemed necessary to vaccinate children who may come into contact with vulnerable family members, why aren’t we worried about the vulnerable woman in the supermarket?

That’s the kicker with chicken pox – it’s highly contagious 2 days before the spots sprout and 5 days after, so how are you to know if your child is infectious and protect those in society that are vulnerable?
How many times have you, as a parent, noted that your child is acting out of character, whether its just being a bit sleepier than usual or being a giant douchebag and crying endlessly at everything? How often have you passed it off as “just a bit grizzly” for your toddler to develop a stinker of a cold or virus? It’s the same principal as anything that we vaccinate against. We’re taught in the UK that Chicken pox is mild and that we just need to get it over with but that isn’t always the case, certainly not for the elderly or for anyone with poor immunity, and isn’t it our duty to protect these people too? I’m seeing more and more case of vicious chicken pox that are just totally unnecessary.

Having a chicken pox vaccine might not prevent you from getting chicken pox entirely and it doesn’t prevent you getting shingles later on in life, but knowing now what I do, if I was given the chance again I feel like I would take the vaccine, avoid the experience for the children but most importantly I would keep those that can’t vaccinate and are at risk safe.

H 🙂

10 Comments

  1. Zoe
    March 8, 2019 / 7:14 am

    Shingles is the same virus as chicken pox, therefore if you have the dose of chicken pox there is a chance you will have shingles as an adult…. The chicken pox virus stays in your body for life, dormant and not doing anything, shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus in times of stress, illness, immune suppression (the virus lies dormant in nerve cells, that’s why shingles symptoms are track nerves rather than give all over spots like the original infection.)

  2. Mary
    February 16, 2019 / 12:41 pm

    Girl yes! I’m american living in the UK. Our 3 year old was born in the states but not old enough for the vaccine before we moved. Of course when I asked about it upon arrival and registering, folks laughed at me. Flash forward a few years, the night before my kids 3rd birthday he broke out in spots. But the scariest bit was my 32 year old husband has never had chicken pox! Or at least his mom doesn’t recall him having it. So we call the GP and sure enough, there’s a big worry bc chicken pox is more dangerous in adults. He was signed off from work for week and my kid had it on all the worst places- anus, scrotum, INSIDE his ears and on his eye lids. Luckily, he husband never had any spots show up. However, once my kiddos spots scabbed he went back to nursery, where he immediately caught LICE. Who of course feasted on his newly healing bits. I’m sorry (but not sorry), I really feel that the vaccine needs to be a thing here. The fear that my husband might be very ill, lost nursery fees, what my kid suffered, I just don’t see how it’s worth enduring.

  3. Shannon
    February 16, 2019 / 1:15 am

    So, I’m genuinely curious because until recently I didnt realize the UK did not vaccinate against the chicken pox. I, myself had it as a child, but my half sister is 10 years younger and she received the vaccination. I know in the US there are people who do not “believe” in vaccines and due to these people, herd immunity for other illnesses is weaker than it has been in the past. Is this also happening in the UK?

  4. Emma
    February 15, 2019 / 7:17 pm

    I was all for Chicken Pox parties – it’s what my mum did and when my 5 year old son got them I actively encouraged my seven year old daughter to get close so she would get them. Charlie was ill for a little while but Alice became seriously ill. It happened really quick. Within 24 hours the spots just didn’t stop coming. Her temp was that high when we applied the mousse to soothe it steamed before it hit her skin. We couldn’t take her to hospital as it was contagious and instead we had a doctor call us every hour to see how she was. After a few more hours she was struggling to breathe and became lifeless and we had to rush her to hospital. Chicken pox had infected her internal organs and the next 48 hours wAs really scary. Thankfully after a couple of days and lots of antibiotics she could come home and was better. But while she was really poorly she just kept on saying mummy why did you want me to get this Ill. It broke me totally. Apparently something like 80% of children just get poorly but for 20% it can be life threatening.
    I had no idea your child could become so ill.

  5. Pria
    February 15, 2019 / 5:21 pm

    We went to get my 3year old vaccinated last weekend, the nurse informed us that this doesn’t protect her against shingles as an adult which swayed us not to have it done in the end.

    I think (basically looking through a leaflet) chicken pox as a child doesn’t guarantee not getting shingles but reduces the chances.

    I feel like there is a lot of scare mongering about chicken pox recently… I’m hoping my daughter gets them soon just so I can stop worrying about it!

    • Zoe
      March 8, 2019 / 7:12 am

      Shingles is the same virus as chicken pox, therefore if you have the dose of chicken pox there is a chance you will have shingles as an adult…. The chicken pox virus stays in your body for life, dormant and not doing anything, shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus in times of stress, illness, immune suppression (the virus lies dormant in nerve cells, that’s why shingles symptoms are track nerves rather than give all over spots like the original infection.)

  6. Jess
    February 15, 2019 / 2:42 pm

    So I have a theory on this…I chose to have my 2 year old vaccinated whilst I was pregnant with my 2nd child. The main reason being that I was bloody terrified at the prospect of having a new born and then a toddler suffering with “the pox”…could you imagine?! Hard enough this “mum lark” as it is!
    Anywhoo…the other reason being, my 2 year old is at nursery 2 days a week; I live in leafy West Sussex and the amount I bloody pay in child care is borderline robbery therefore he’s going, everyday he’s scheduled too, whether he bloody likes it or not! SO…my point being, I have to pay regardless of whether he’s there or not, no airs and graces, they’ll screw you for every penny and then fuck you off if he as much as sneezes one too many times within a 60 minute period so he’s no way in hell coming down with chicken pox on my watch…NO F’ING WAY! It would therefore cost more in money thrown down the sodding toilet for him to sit with me (also then having to take time off) for 2 weeks (and still having to pay his nursery!!) and us both losing our sanity then just paying for him to have the vaccine.
    I understand all theories / arrangements / lifestyles / financial commitments are different and of course I would never want to see my child suffer in any way but this is 2019…come on, we should be helping prevent these things from happening surely…if we can?!
    Thanks for letting me rant, love your blog…I laugh out loud on a regular basis x

    • Harriet February 15, 2019 / 3:24 pm

      YESSSSS Jess! YES! You know what this raises SUCH a good point – why would you a.) put your child through it for no reason but b.) have to take those two weeks that the system ensures you can’t afford?! Yes. I love this side.

  7. February 15, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    This is really interesting, until recently I didn’t even realise there was a chicken pox vaccine! My daughter was really lucky when she had it, she wasn’t too ill and although she had a lot of spots she wasn’t too ill or itchy with it. She has been left with a small scar on her face though! With a new baby on the way I’m not sure even if we were offered the vaccine we would take it without doing a lot more research!

    • Harriet February 15, 2019 / 3:26 pm

      I didn’t know about it either lovely – so annoying!

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