However ‘Harmless’ You Think It Is, The Chickenpox Should Be Vaccinated Against

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shutterstock_94529320__1381689205_142.196.156.251When I was reading about vaccinations before my first child was due to have his, one complaint kept resurfacing in forums. It was always about the varicella or chickenpox vaccine. It seems that there are many people who think chickenpox is a harmless disease and we shouldn’t even bother vaccinating against it. My question was always, why not?

I never got the chickenpox as a child. I ended up with it when I was 20-years-old. Not fun. But I remember my doctor at the time saying at least I probably wouldn’t scar because I was able to control myself as an adult, and not scratch the pox to the point that the skin would break and leave a mark. He was sort of right – I only have about three scars. But I remember thinking, no wonder so many of my friends’ bodies were littered with scars. Those damn things itched so bad.

Having gone through it as an adult, I can confidently say it’s not something I want my kids to experience. The fever, the general body aches and the unbearable itching – if I could stop it from happening to my kids, why wouldn’t I? Now, there is a second dose of the vaccine that will make it even less likely for my children to catch. From Health Day News:

After the introduction of the second dose of chickenpox vaccine, the rates of chickenpox infection dropped 76 percent and 67 percent at two U.S. sites tracked for the study on opposite sides of the country.

Rates of infection in adults and infants — two groups who generally don’t receive the vaccine — also went down, suggesting that higher levels of immunity in the population are decreasing the amount of circulating chickenpox.

I’ve heard many make the “but people live through it all the time” argument in regards to other diseases we vaccinate against as well. I always hated that argument. Why turn your back on science when it is helping to make your child healthier?

Although many people tended to think of chickenpox as a relatively mild infection, it caused more than 10,000 hospitalizations each year and about 100 deaths annually, according to background information in the study.

“I think the data is pretty clear that the second dose is having a dramatic effect,” said Dr. Thomas Murray, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn.

“The second dose in the varicella vaccine program is very effective in reducing varicella in the general population,” he said.

The CDC recommends children under 13 years get the first dose of the chickenpox vaccine between the ages of 12 months and 15 months, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years. People 13 and over who have never had the chickenpox or the vaccine should get two doses 28 days apart.

(photo: Vadym Zaitsev/ Shutterstock)