Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicken Pox

Seventeen days ago we intentionally exposed our son to the chicken pox virus, by arranging a playdate with him and another 2.5-yr-old girl who was in the contagious stage of chicken pox.

One day ago he broke out in spots - yay, success! Boo, uncomfortable, itchy boy.

Why we decided to do this rather than vaccinate him for varicella:
1. The chicken pox vaccine was cultured on aborted fetal tissue, and is not available in any other medium

2. Women who have had the chicken pox pass on placental immunity to each of their infants, and this immunity protects the baby from contracting chicken pox until around 8 months old It remains uncertain if the vaccination will pass on immunities to protect the woman's babies, which would leave them vulnerable in infancy. Dax is a boy, but this would be a huge reason for me if he were a girl.

3. According to the CDC, your child has a higher chance of having a moderate to severe reaction to the vaccine, than he has of dying of chicken pox.
"As with any vaccine, there is a very small chance that serious problems could occur after getting chickenpox vaccine. However, after distribution of the first 10 million doses of the vaccine, reports of serious adverse events after vaccination for example, seizures, brain infection (encephalitis), pneumonia, loss of balance (ataxia) and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have been very rare, occurring approximately 1 for every 50,000 doses given."
"A seizure (jerking and staring spell) usually caused by fever may occur in less than 1 in 1000 vaccine recipients. This may not be related to the vaccine."
"before a vaccine was available, there were approximately... 100 deaths from chickenpox in the U.S. every year" (more than half of those deaths were adults)

4. The vaccine does not work for everybody, and those people will be unknowingly unprotected when exposed to the virus (at a potentially much more dangerous age to get it). Statistically, 2% of vaccinated children and 22% of vaccinated teens/adults will later get chicken pox. We wanted to control when he got it and try to make it a young age, as kids who get it when they're young tend to have an easier round of it, and they are less likely to scar. The girl he caught it from was all done with her chicken pox in 4 or 5 days. When this opportunity came up to expose him, we jumped on it. I was especially happy he was able to get chicken pox while he is still nursing, as that will help him get through this. I've also found that breastmilk provides relief on the pox discomfort and itching when applied topically - so yay!

5. As his parents, we've both had the chicken pox already, when we were young. Being around the chicken pox acts as a booster to your own chicken pox immunity, lessening the chances that you will get shingles later in life.

Edited to add: If he (or future kids) did not catch chicken pox by about age 9, the plan was to vaccinate him at that point.
Also - we're willing to share with anyone who would like pox, so if you live local and would like it, just let me know. Visitors have been dropping by to play with Dax. I know it can be difficult to find now that the vaccine is so common.

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