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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 10 2015, @11:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-no-harm dept.

The Chicago Sun Times reports that in a disturbing California Bay Area trend, parents wary of vaccinating their kids are considering having their unvaccinated children attend measles parties with those who are infected. The idea is the same as a chicken pox party. Parents bring their children to these gatherings to get them sick once so they won’t have to deal with the virus again. Except, most cases of chicken pox aren’t deadly. Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis says that although his office has received no reports of such parties, officials have fielded several calls from parents asking about the benefits of "natural immunity," or the idea that immunity gained from contracting a disease is superior to immunity conferred through vaccination. Measles is a serious illness that can cause brain swelling, long-term neurological effects and even death, Willis says. Plus, he added, there is no evidence that immunity gained through becoming sick with measles is any better than vaccine-imparted immunity. "Any parents who are considering this, they should have a look at a child who’s really sick with measles, and I think they’d change their minds."

Willis and other health officials suspect the concept of a measles party may have grown out of "pox parties," which were popular in the 1980s, before the chickenpox vaccine was widely available. Some parents, reports said, even arranged to pay strangers for licked lollipops, saliva or other items from infected children. Willis says he still hears reports of “pox parties” occurring in Marin today, even though a chickenpox vaccine has been available for more than two decades. "It was not a good idea then, and it's still not a good idea," says Wilbert Mason.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @11:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11 2015, @11:43PM (#143863)

    Chickenpox is caused by a herpes virus. Herpes is no joke. Anyone who was infected with it carries it for life, and it can cause a flare-up later on in life (called "shingles" when it happens in adults). I hear there's a vaccine now for chickenpox. That is a much preferable route to being covered in painful sores and taking antiviral drugs, if you can afford them.

  • (Score: 2) by physicsmajor on Thursday February 12 2015, @12:41AM

    by physicsmajor (1471) on Thursday February 12 2015, @12:41AM (#143886)

    The flare-up you're thinking of is commonly called "shingles" and it's a terribly painful eruption confined to a single dermatome. It sucks, hard.

    There is now a vaccine against chicken pox. If given before infected with the disease, it protects against both the childhood disease and the geriatric issue.

    If you have kids, please get them vaccinated. I wish I could have been, but was born too early.