Barbara Walters Got Chicken Pox & I Know Why She Wasn't Vaccinated

Mom Moment 14

barbara waltersApparently the concept of "it's never too late" can apply to things like childhood diseases, too. Just ask Barbara Walters: The 83-year-old news pro has the chicken pox! While in the hospital for an injury sustained after falling and hitting her head at a pre-inauguration party on January 19, Walters developed a fever that wouldn't go away. Considering her 2010 heart surgery, Walters was probably somewhat relieved to be diagnosed with chicken pox as the cause -- but the itchy illness can be super-serious in older patients (especially if it turns into pneumonia). Which leads to the question: Why wasn't Walters vaccinated? Which leads to the larger question: Why isn't everybody vaccinated?

Full disclosure: My two kids both received the chicken pox vaccine, but not because I was particularly concerned about them getting chicken pox, which used to be considered a fairly benign (if incredibly unpleasant) childhood rite of passage.

No, I agreed to the chicken pox vax after watching a friend go through an epic battle with her kids' school because they weren't vaccinated. After talking to my pediatrician about possible risks and weighing the pros and cons, the choice to get my kids vaccinated seemed to make the most sense. And we haven't had any problems in the years since. 

Full disclosure (again): I made a different choice for myself. See, like Barbara Walters (well, not really, but you know what I mean), I'm one of those random adults who never had the chicken pox growing up. So when I was getting my kids vaccinated, their pediatrician gave me the whole speech about how it's much more dangerous for adults and so on and so forth, and maybe I should really think about getting vaccinated too, etc. But I was afraid, to be perfectly honest. Because you know those "rare" side effects they warn you about in super tiny print? I ALWAYS get those. So if I don't absolutely positively have to get something or take something or have something done to me, I don't.

Which is why I feel for Barbara Walters. Maybe she has similar issues. Maybe she doesn't. Point is, the decision to vaccinate isn't always easy. If we make the right one, we should consider ourselves fortunate.

Did you get the chicken pox vaccine for your kids?


Image via Joella Marano/Flickr

in the news, toddler health


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ethan... ethans_momma06

Who said she didn't get the vaccine- or hadn't already HAD chickenpox in her childhood?

You can get it multiple times, and the vaccine can not be effective for some people.

nonmember avatar eee3209

I did get the vaccine for three of my four kids, my youngest actually got chicken pox two months before he was old enough to get. Hopefully he won't be like me and his dad, we both have had them twice.

Rando... Randomlady

You were afraid to get the vaccine but you were willing to give it to your kids? There should be a rule that if there's anything you don't want put into yourself, don't put it into your kids.

I've never gotten chicken pox and have been surrounded by people who had it but just never seem to get it, I had a doctor tell me to get the vaccine or die from chicken pox later. lol wut?

Flori... Floridamom96

Because you never got the vaccine and have never had the chicken pox you are not at risk for developing shingles. Thank your lucky stars, it is a heinous, painful illness.

nonmember avatar Crystal

My mom tried to give me chickenpox. All my siblings had it...I never got it. When I became a preschool teacher I went to the dr to do it,but couldn't due to drug allergies.Hopefully I won't get chickenpox.Apparently your immunity can fade over time.

nonmember avatar singer825

I will vaccinate my kids. My mother got the chicken pox in her 30s and she got very sick. She couldn't leave the house for two months. She even had pox on the bottoms of her feet and the palms of her hands. I thought that would be my fate since 1)there were no pox vaccinations when I was a child and 2) everytime a child we knew got the chickenpox, my mom would expose me to that person and I would never get it. I finally got it when I was 16 during a 2 month period where I was already extremely run down due to illness. It was bad, although, not as bad as my mom. I looked and felt diseased. So I'm not risking it with my kids. I don't want them getting it in their 30s or when they are already super ill from something else. No thank you.

nonmember avatar Meghan

Ya know... those "rare side effects that no one gets" that you say you ALWAYS get- yeah,vaccines have those rare side effects too. They're pretty much as bad or worse as what the side effects of the diseases they're used to vaccinate against are.

Kaymad41 Kaymad41

Trust me, get the vaccine!  I was 13 years old when I got them, courtesy of my little sisters.  I had them in the throat, the bottom of my feet, I was out of school for two weeks.  It would have been longer, but Christmas vacation interrupted things.  Our 30 year old neighbor got them.  She was healthy, but ended up in the hospital.

Laurie Reicks Kamps

Hmmm read about the long term issues we will face from this vaccine!!! Everytime we are exposed to a person who has had the chicken pox it gives us a booster! Thats why we now see so many cases of shingles people dont get the chicken pox anymore so we dont get these boosters mother nature made for us!!!! We will all soon get shingles and thats hell that we created!!! not trying to ruffle feathers just sayin!!!

Kaymad41 Kaymad41

Laurie, your theory isn't based in reality.   People were getting the shingles long before the vaccine.  You get the shingles by coming in contact with the chicken pox virus which activates the virus that is already in your body.  If we operate on your theory, no one would get the shingles because the booster is the chicken pox virus itself?  That makes no sense.

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