Yesterday, the Ashland Daily Tidings posted an article called “Poxsicle Parties.”
First, a little background. Ashland has the highest rate of nonvaccinated children in the state of Oregon (and has been recognized by the CDC as one of the highest in the nation). A few years ago, Frontline did a special called The Vaccine War, in which Ashland was highlighted. You can watch the clip about Ashland below (skip to 3:52), in which our pediatrician is interviewed and talks about how with a high percentage of non vaccinated children, Ashland is ripe for a potential outbreak. That’s awesome…
Back to the Ashland Daily Tidings article: it talks about parents who throw “pox parties” when their children get chicken pox, to try and give it to other children to help build up a natural immunity to it. Here’s a section from the article:
Pox parties are advertised through word of mouth, invitation-only Facebook groups and message boards. Parents on the local email group Mamas Medicine Wheel recently offered to host and searched for someone to host a chicken pox party. At the parties, children share food or drink with a child who has the chicken pox.
One Ashland mother, who did not want to be named, said she has taken her 7-year-old son to four chicken pox parties over the past two years. At these events, she’s seen a variety of transmission methods, including shared gum, lollipops, and Popsicles.
“If he catches the chicken pox, I’d host a party for moms I know in the community,” she said. “So far, he hasn’t caught it, but we’ll keep trying.”
Gosh, I wonder what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention think about chickenpox parties:
“Chickenpox parties” have been held to increase a child’s chance of getting chickenpox while he or she is still young. Chickenpox can be serious, especially for infants and even for some children. So, it is not worth taking the chance of exposing them to chickenpox. The best way to protect infants and children against chickenpox is to get them vaccinated.
They also linked to an article at the National Network for Immunization Information here.
Before we had Caleb, I had no idea that vaccination was such a highly-charged controversy. I had no idea that Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy model, had become a spokesperson for the anti-vaccine movement (although, she says they aren’t truly against vaccines). And I had never heard of people having pox parties.
And I don’t get it.
I’m sure that we’ll meet folks here in Ashland who are against vaccinations, and I’m sure that people have their own well-thought-out reasons for making those decisions, but I just have a hard time understanding where they’re coming from. And if Caleb were to contract pertussis, or something else really serious, from a classmate who was not immunized, I think it’d be a little bit challenging for me to remember that I’m a pastor in the community, because it would frankly piss me off.
It just seems crazy to me that you’d want your kids to get chicken pox…kids die from it. There can be complications. And to try and get your kid to contract it at a party, swapping spit with a child who has chicken pox…that sounds kind of cruel if you ask me. In fact, when I posted about this on Facebook, some folks even went as far as to say “child abuse comes in all forms.” I wouldn’t want to go that far, but it does seem like something that just doesn’t sound right.
Do you know people who have been to “pox parties” before? What are your thoughts on the phenomenon?