I know that I, for one, kind of went “buh?” when I heard there was a chicken pox vaccine. Unlike polio and German measles, I thought it was a harmless inconvenience. Did I love sitting in the bathtub with an oatmeal-filled sock as my skin oozed and I missed days of my beloved B’nai Or nursery school? No. But it was over in a flash, it seemed.
Except that for 100 kids each year, chicken pox actually used to prove fatal. I know -- that kind of blows my mind. And I say “used to” because child deaths from chicken pox have decreased by 97 percent since the vaccine was brought into general use 12 years ago.
Wow. Very few deaths is great, but almost none is even better. Absolutely, I'll get that vaccine for my kid.
A study in the most recent Pediatrics looked at all deaths and serious complications from chicken pox, not just in children but in adults as well. They also corrected for kids who tended to have adverse reactions to vaccines -- taking them out of the study -- and were able to prove that almost all of these deaths were preventable, while the vaccine wouldn’t have caused a problem.
In addition, the researchers pointed out an additional benefit: fewer work days lost by parents of sick kids, and fewer medical resources used across the board.
Most kids are vaccinated against chicken pox between 12 and 18 months of age. More recently, doctors have begun recommending a two-dose vaccination, and older people (like over 55) can get a vaccine against shingles, a much more painful and debilitating version of the virus that anyone who’s had chicken pox can get later in life.
I’m so glad to see this research, because I consider myself pretty well-informed about health and vaccines, yet I was surprised to hear there was a vaccine against chicken pox. Now that I think about it, I'd rather give her that immunity than make her have to earn it -- her little body has enough to do.
Are you getting the chicken pox vaccine for your kids? Did you ever know someone who died from complications from chicken pox or shingles?
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