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Thoughts on Pox

There was a chickenpox incident at school, and our friend's also have the pox. They've invited us over for pox play! We're waffling. Should we pox it up now, or let nature take it's course? Thoughts on pox?


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There was a discussion on vaccinations a while back so here is my preface on this comment:

We fall in the middle of that debate, Mila has been/is being vaccinated for most things but we didn't begin any vaccinations until she was a toddler. This is our choice and is based on our own review of available information and discussions with our health care providers (ND and MD).

In the case of Chicken Pox, we did not vaccinate and instead allowed for natural immunity development.

Mila contracted Chicken Pox when she was two, it was no big deal for her at all. Mila's itching was minimal so doesn't have any scarring from the outbreak. Based on our experience, it seems like having the child's initial exposure to pox earlier in life - but not TOO early - makes it easier on them. So this may be one advantage of having exposure be sooner rather than later. Also being able to choose when this outbreak occurs may allow it to happen at a convenient time.

A child with chicken pox will need to be kept at home away from adolescents, adults and children lacking the immunity - especially people in this category who already have a weak immune system, have eczema or other skin conditions, or are pregnant. This could translate into a week of time at home. Of course kids with an immunity - or kids who come to your own pox inoculation party - can still come and visit.

I did a search and couldn't find the vaccination discussion. I would love to read it as we are struggling through those decisions with our second right now.

I agree with Milagros that knowing Chicken Pox can be fairly mild if contracted under the best circumstances, why not go for it? Seems like it would be better to have it now then when older. However, I guess the immunization arguement is that one never knows how hard it will "hit" each child...so that is something to think about too.

If you are going to let nature take its course, this sounds like the perfect opportunity. We took this approach with our five year old who was two at the time. He had a great time with his friends...and hardly noticed the pox later.

My husband had them at 16 and was miserable and another friend had them at 38...and said it was AWFUL. I have not talked to an adult who contracted the chicken pox and said it was no big deal.

Could I join you with my three year old?

Sounds like a good idea to me. My 3yo and 7mo had it together (I didn't seek it out, it just happened) and it really wasn't too bad. I'm glad to have it out of the way.

Although we eventually ended up not vaccinating, our terrific (now retired) pediatrician, who was totally old-school and pro-vaccination, told us that in her opinion, vaccinating for CP was "ridiculous fearmongering" and strongly discouraged us from getting it.

Hhmm, chicken pox for xmas - now that's a great idea for a holiday gift!

But really, I'm interested as well - I have a 2.5 year old who is not vaccinated. If your child ends up getting it, can you keep me updated on where the pox parties are?

After researching the subject, I chose to give both of my children chicken pox vaccines. I was unable to find any compelling evidence that doing so would be harmful. In fact, it seems that the possible (yet rare) side effects that may occur from actual chicken pox are more likely to occur and to be dangerous than the possible (yet rare) side effects from the vaccine. I recall reading that hospitilazations due to side effects from chicken pox have dropped something like 88% since the introduction of the vaccine. Plus, I remember being absolutely miserable when I had the chicken pox (though I was a teenager) and I am glad that there is a good chance that my children will not have to go through that.

My kids both got chicken pox at the same time last year. They were 3 months and 5 years and it was much easier for the younger one. Not only did he notice them less, but the spots were smaller and less frequent which I think made a difference.

Oh, I forgot the holiday aspect of all this.

The incubation period for chickenpox is 21 days, so if your kids are exposed now, they should be right in the thick of it on Christmas, if that's what you celebrate. In that case, I might give it a pass. There doesn't seem to be a shortage of cp in this town, and they will undoubtedly come down with it on their own eventually, or you'll find another opportunity to expose them.

Our girls won't be pox-vaxed. Zinemama, you hit the nail on the head. While I was quite excited to get an invite to a playdate with a poxxy kid, I then thought - It's holiday season and there's a lot in store in the next few weeks (including travel). So, I will wait for the next invite for a pox party.

I had chickenpox when I was 2 and got them again when I was 19. The second time was absolutely horrible! My doctor said I was too young the first time to have developed the immunity.

This is the one vaccination that we delayed. From my research I believe that there are still questions about the length of the immunity from the vaccine versus the wild live virus, and we'd rather have our children get the chickenpox rather then the vaccine. On the flip side, while the disease is generally relatively mild in healthy children, once you become a teenager or adult the body's reaction to varicella is much worse. So our decision was to delay until it was required by school, and hope for exposure before that point. We just reached that point with our older child, and she was vaccinated last week.

Someone else touched on this, but there are situations where you can get chickenpox more then once. If you get chickenpox before a certain age (under 1 year?) you don't develop full immunity, and you may get it again. It is also possible to get the wild virus after having the vaccine, though it is usually a very mild case. This is from exposure to someone with CP, not a result of the vaccine.

sharonk: here is a link to the discussion on vaccinations

My older daughter (almost 4) is the one with the pox. We intentionally exposed her 3 different times in her life. It wasn't until this last time that she actually got it. Incubation ran 2 weeks, 2 days. Hurry and get it now and you may be done by the holiday (not recommended for travelers). My 1 year old hasn't come down with it yet, so if it is a Christmas thing, we can all comiserate. I know the girls would love to play to get their mind off the itch.

If a child is not vaccinated and gets chicken pox the old-fashioned way, they can have a reocccurence as shingles later in life. Shingles can be horrible, especially for the elderly or pregnant. Vaccinating now may avoid troubles for your child long term. There is still a risk of shingles, but most researchers believe it is greatly reduced. Of course, not all the data is in, but it is worth considering.

I'd never heard that having the pox before age 1 means that that you can get it later. I had it when I was 8 months old, and if I was going to get it again, you'd think I would have when my boys both got it. I mean, there was a whole mess of pox in the house, and with one kid only 7 months old, lets just say I was on pretty intimate terms with those pox...

Yes, people who get chickenpox can get shingles later on in life. But before there was a vaccine for chickenpox, did people go around in dread of shingles? Was it even a concern to anyone? I think that's what my pediatrician meant when she called the chickenpox vaccine "fearmongering." That the presence of the vaccine has elevated what used to be considered a normal part of childhood to the level of a very scary threat.

On the other hand, I believe the vaccine was developed primarily because so many businesses lose money when workers must take time off to care for kids with pox, which can last for up to a week. I can understand how a working (outside the home) parent who can't afford to take that kind of time off might want to give the vaccine.

On the other hand, because the vaccine wears off, that leaves the child vulnerable to getting the pox when she's older, which can be considerably more serious.

It's a complicated issue!

Don't forget, not all adults have either had it or the vaccine (a very small percentage), so make sure to let everyone know. A friend of mine didn't think it was a big deal and didn't mention it to me that they might have chicken pox. I have never had it or the vaccine and was preggers. It turned into a big production of getting some shot made (its made in texas) and having someone hop on the next flight out to deliver it to St. Vincents. CDC had only a few cases of pregnant women who contracted chicken pox and they unfortuanetly passed away. So of course it caused me a lot of stress, as if pregnancy doesn't cause its own.

I had the kids vaccinated only due to being pregnant and having an infant in the house I wasn't comfortable with them contracting it. My preferance would be for them to just get it and not have to worry about it in the future. We do have two family friends who unfortunately have shingles due to the chicken pox and both get it frequently where one misses lots of school and the other has taken quite a bit of time off. They are not related and its more difficult to the childs family with taking time off of work.

there is good and bad with both choices, just depends on what you are more comfortable with. To quote my doctor, "a mother truely knows best on the needs of her own child." Now I wish my mom would believe that! LOL

I've talked to researchers who are uncertain about the link between shingles and the vaccine. One theory is that having the live virus out there in the population might work as a booster, and help prevent shingles, and by having everyone immunized there might actually be a higher incidence of shingles in the elderly population (because they are lacking the booster exposure effect). The vaccine hasn't been out there for long enough to really know what will happen with shingles, from what I understand.

Kate, certainly sounds like you developed immunity when you got it at 8 months. I know someone who's child got it at 3 months and the doctor said it may not count. My sister-in-law doesn't think she ever had it, but when they tested her (between pregnancies, when she could get the vaccine) they discovered she had the antibodies, so I guess you can get it without even realizing it!

I believe it is required for school because of the inconvenience factor for the parents, of having to miss a week or so of work to take care of kids. Don't know if that would have been the case before there were so many 2 parent working families...

I have a dear friend who developed shingles after her son received the pox vaccination. Her MD told her (later) that she probably got it from exposure to her son in the days following his vaccination. (???) Who knows. We won't do the vaccine. I won't mind my children getting the chicken pox at some point. Childhood illness can be kind of like a rite of passage...but that's another story.

Wow Murphy, that's really scary.

My older son had the vaccination and contracted the pox while I was pregnant with my second child. Luckily, I had the pox as a child so no harm to me nor the baby in utero. For working parents, if your child does contract the pox, you'll probably have to take at least a week off of work, and before your child care may take your child back. The downside is that you may contact the pox even with the vaccine, but on the upside, it was a fairly mild case. I'm torn as to whether or not child number two will be vaccinated with it.

I never really thought of the missing work aspect of it. That might be the best selling point. My doctor recommended that I immunize when I asked, as there are less available kids for CP parties these days, but it sounds like it might not be that hard to find one! I have opted to immunize for everything but the pox, thinking I can always get that one when my daughter is 5 prior to starting school if she was not already exposed. But as a single mom, I don't know if I can risk taking the full week off! I hate that this may be a deciding factor.

hell, i don't even work, and it was the deciding factor for me. we had been holding out on the pox vax, until we got invited to a poxxy playdate last week, and i nearly jumped at the chance. then i remembered that right now, my 3-1/2 year old and i drive each other absolutely bonkers if we're cooped up in the house for even an afternoon. if we were faced with the prospect of being basically quarantined for over a week, we'd both need professional help i fear :)

so after thinking it over, and talking with an infectious disease doc friend of ours, we opted to take him in for the vax last friday.

I suspect at some point the recommendation will be to do varicella booster shots at regular intervals like tetanus. Right now no one knows for certain what will be needed.
In the meantime, my understanding is that contracting chickenpox naturally does not reduce your risk of shingles later in life but the vaccine does. And a lot of folks who get shingles get post-herpetic neuralgia with subsequent longterm pain that is hard to treat.
While the vaccine does not offer complete protection against chickenpox, the cases that occur after being immunized are mild, even among adults.
I opted to vaccinate myself as an adult (I'd never had chickenpox despite plenty of opportunities) and both my kids.

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