If you're wondering whether or not you should have your child vaccinated against chickenpox (varicella virus), you're not alone. Many parents today are opting to either skip the vaccine and let nature take its course, or expose their children to chickenpox intentionally, so they develop immunity naturally.
Chickenpox vaccination: the cons
What do some parents have against the chickenpox vaccine?
- They consider it an unnecessary vaccine.
- Chickenpox is usually mild when acquired by children and easy to treat.
- They believe natural immunity is better than vaccine immunity.
- Some believe children are more likely to enjoy lifelong immunity by catching chickenpox as opposed to being vaccinated.
- They question the vaccine's effectiveness.
- Some view cases where vaccinated children still catch chickenpox as evidence that the vaccine doesn't work.
- They believe the vaccine may be harmful to their children's health.
- The chickenpox vaccine is relatively new, and we do not know the long terms effects of its use.
Chickenpox vaccination: the pros
What do proponents say about the benefits of the chickenpox vaccine?
- Tens of millions of children have safely received the vaccine, and serious side effects have been very rare.
The vaccine is 99% effective. Proponents point out that the very small percentage of vaccinated children who get chickenpox develop only a very mild form of the disease.
- Proponents believe it is safer for children to receive the vaccine than to actually catch chickenpox. Although chickenpox is usually a mild illness, in rare cases complications may arise that make it difficult to treat, or even fatal.
How can you decide?
The controversy surrounding the chickenpox vaccine isn't easy to sort through, but parents can take a common sense approach when making their decision.
If you believe in the value of natural immunity or have serious doubts about the vaccine, you may:
- Deliberately expose your child to the virus through a chickenpox party in your community. Keep in mind that as more and more parents vaccinate, these exposure options are harder to come by.
- Wait and see if your child either catches chickenpox or somehow acquires immunity on her own.
If you prefer to prevent your child from catching chickenpox:
- Have your child vaccinated.
- Don't vaccinate, but bolster your child's immune system with vitamins, homeopathic remedies and probiotics to lessen the odds of their becoming sick.
- Wait some time, but vaccinate before school age, or whatever age you believe exposure to the virus is likely.
If you're not sure about the vaccine, the wait and see approach may be best. But keep in mind that cases of chickenpox tend to be more severe later in life. Some parents delay the vaccine in early childhood, but have their child vaccinated before their teen years if they haven't already acquired immunity.
Remedies for chickenpox
Whether you take a wait and see approach or opt to expose your child to the virus, here are some natural remedies for the symptoms of the virus:
- Homeopathic remedies such as Rhus-toxicodendron 30 to relieve itching and Antimonium crudum 30 to help lesions heal.
- Calamine lotion to relieve itching.
- Vitamin C, vitamin A as beta carotene, and echinacea will help to fortify your child's immune system so her run of the chickenpox won't be as severe.
Have you vaccinated your kids for chickenpox?
What helped you decide?