Opinion

WATERCOOLER: Chicken pox parties a symptom of our times

HEARING that parents are willing to take children to chicken pox "parties" to expose their children to the virus sets fire to feelings that can shut down the ability to form a coherent sentence.

As a baby the virus struck me severely, I was told, as I have no memory of it.

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The varicella-zoster virus then lodged in my spine and decades later, at a moment of stress, it struck in a completely unforgettable way, as shingles.

In a grimly humorous way, it was probably Christmas which triggered it.

While I was working on a Christmas Day my youngest sister had complications during the birth of her first child. At the same we were learning of the first indications Dad could have some form of dementia.

I remember going home feeling shattered in a way I'd never experienced before.
 

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A week later some nasty little pustules erupted on the left side of my chest and spread quickly around my ribs. The rash was accompanied by a fiery itch which was impossible to quell completely.

Once the rash subsided, the itch and pain went away. Not all shingles sufferers are so lucky, as the virus can cause nerve damage that lasts for years.

Mum and Dad are children of the 1930s. They saw diseases like polio and whooping cough infect friends and relatives and destroy lives. When vaccines arrived that could almost guarantee immunity, it was a no-brainer.
 

There were no parties if we became ill. If Mum and Dad discovered any of our friends were sick, they were strictly off limits.

Vaccines do their work in two ways. Firstly they immunise a large proportion of the population. In the case of chicken pox it's about 80%.

Then herd immunity kicks in to inhibit the spread of disease, protecting the other 20% and those too young or ill to have the vaccine.

Sabotaging this by wilfully exposing children to disease is not a demonstration of free will. It does not free them from the predations of the big capitalist pharmaceutical industry.

It just leaves them and others in the community more vulnerable to a disease at its best irritating and at its worst lethal, but as it turns out almost wholly preventable.

Topics:  chicken pox, editors picks




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