Last week a mommy friend of mine announced that her eight year old daughter had the chicken pox and that we were welcome to stop by. My cyber ears perked up. Should I take my children over for a chicken pox party?
I've been on the fence about the concept of chicken pox parties. I generally believe that vaccines are a personal decision that every parent should make for each individual child. That said, I can wholeheartedly say that I think the chicken pox vaccine is a scam for big pharma to make more money masked as heroic prevention of a ‘deadly' illness.
Chicken pox has always been a normal, childhood illness and before the vaccine was introduced, it was estimated that only 10% of kids over 15 years old had not had the illness. Sure, on occasion an immune-compromised child may have complications or even die.
And while I don't take this lightly, for the average kid, we're talking a fever, a week or two of itchy spots, and maybe a tiny scar to show for it by adulthood.
With the introduction of the varicella vaccine in the mid 1990's, chicken pox cases dropped 90% within 10 years. Kids didn't have to suffer through the illness, and parents weren't stuck home from work taking care of a sick kid. While this may seem like a good thing, it's actually a bummer if you believe that having chicken pox is a normal and important part of a healthy childhood.
In theory, I think a chicken pox party is a brilliant idea. It's not really a party, it's just getting kids together to pass the virus while they are young enough for it to be mostly benign. Parents have been doing this for generations. But in the reality of our busy world, when is a good time to have a sick, miserable kid for two weeks (or longer if you have more that one kid sick at different times)? Is it just better to wait it out and hope for the best? Let's find out…
Why chicken pox may make for healthier humans
Getting chicken pox as a kid means you have lifelong immunity to the varicella virus. When a child gets the disease naturally, every time they are subsequently exposed to the illness after that, their immune system actually grows stronger against the virus, so that by adulthood they have become immune to the more severe and dangerous form of adult varicella called shingles. (source)
Rather than crops of itchy spots all over the body, shingles is characterized by concentrated areas of painful blisters and extreme nerve pain that feels like lightning shooting through the body. Shingles often leaves lasting nerve damage and pain.
Adult varicella is life threatening for the elderly, immune-compromised, or those with a history of chronic steroid use. For pregnant women in their first trimesters, getting the varicella virus can cause birth defects. Contracting the virus shortly before or after birth risks your baby contracting the virus as well – with a reported 30% death rate in newborns.
While the incidence of chicken pox and chicken pox related deaths has drastically been reduced since the chicken pox vaccine was released for mass use, the incidence of the more dangerous adult shingles has increased by 90 percent. (source)
By having chicken pox as a kid, you're much less likely to suffer from shingles as an adult or pass along the virus to your unborn or newly born baby. Unfortunately, the varicella vaccine does not provide the same long-term, immune boosting protection as acquiring natural immunity.
The problems with the varicella vaccines
A vaccine only provides a temporary shield against the diseases for which it is used and does nothing to strengthen the body's true immune response. In order to maintain immunity from chicken pox, shingles, and most other vaccinated illnesses, it is necessary to have regular vaccinations/boosters throughout your life. Those who are not up-to-date with vaccines are at higher risk for infection.
Even if you are vaccinated for varicella, reports of efficacy for the vaccine range from 85% according to the CDC itself to a mere 40% in smaller outbreaks (source). The shingles vaccine reports a sad 50% efficacy at best, with the chance of protection plummeting for folks 70 or older – the population most at risk for the disease leading to their death. (source)
Regardless of how you may interpret these statistics, it is a fact that with any vaccine, the shot does not guarantee immunity; without naturally acquired immunity, you are at higher risk of contracting shingles.
Beyond the issue of efficacy, the varicella vaccine is packed with a bunch of toxic additives that can actually cause more harm than good. According to this article, the rate of injury from vaccines is actually higher that the pre-vaccine fatality rate from the disease.
Finally, many folks find certain ingredients ethically questionable, including human lung tissue and fetal bovine serum taken from pregnant cows during slaughter.
This is one vaccine that simply does not make sense to me.
Is a chicken pox party a good solution or just plain stupid?
Rather than leaving it to chance, many parents are purposefully scheduling playdates for their kids with children who are covered in the spots in the hope that they might contract the disease.
Unfortunately, because the vaccine has nearly eliminated childhood chicken pox, it's becoming increasingly more challenging to encounter cases of the illness. Because of this, many parents find themselves faced with non-immune teenagers with busy academic, social, and athletic schedules. Several parents I know have opted to vaccinate at this point to save the potential major inconvenience, not to mention the more severe symptoms should their adolescent child contract varicella.
Other parents, out of desperate measures, have been known to buy infected lollipops over the internet. (By the way, this practice is illegal, potentially dangerous, and probably ineffective.)
If you are lucky enough to get an invitation to a chicken pox party, it is important to assess whether or not your child is a good candidate for exposure to the virus. If you have a healthy child, the chances are that he or she will only experience a week or two of mild discomfort in return for life-long immunity. However, anyone who is immune-compromised – whether that’s through chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, being a newborn, elderly, or pregnant – is more likely to experience serious complications if they contract the varicella virus.
These days many kids suffer from low-level immune issues such as asthma, allergies, and eczema. Increasingly, the Standard American Diet is packed with non-nutritious, packaged and processed ‘foods' that do not provide a substantial foundation for good health. For kids with poor diet or chronic health issues, purposefully contracting varicella may not be a wise first move.
The best way to protect your child's health
Regardless of whether you choose to vaccinate, hit a chicken pox party, or just cross your fingers and hope for the best, the most important thing to ensuring your child's long-term health is making smart choices on a daily basis.
Do you feed your kids processed, packaged foods on a regular basis? Start to incorporate a good foundation of immune boosting foods instead. Read about the four food groups that all kids should eat – you may be surprised what they are!
Don't count on gummy vitamins to shore up your children's nutrition. Learn what to use instead of multivitamins here. Though it may seem like common sense, make sure they get plenty of sleep, fresh air, and sunshine.
If and when your child is sick, avoid Tylenol and aspirin that can cause more harm than good. You can learn natural ways to manage a fever here.
For children with chicken pox, the homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox can help alleviate the symptoms of intense itching with restlessness.
Finally, for those who are immune-compromised, elderly, pregnant, or otherwise should avoid contracting the varicella virus, a homeopathic vaccine, called a nosode, may be a good alternative to the conventional shot. Contact a trained homeopath to discuss whether this is a good option for you, and you can read more about homeopathic vaccines in this post.
In the end, we did not go to the chicken pox party this time around. Turns out that my friend's daughter only has a very mild case with a single blister, and we missed our chance. But having really taken the time to consider the options, I'm pretty sure I'd jump at the next opportunity to expose my children to this normal childhood experience and life-long immunity to a potentially more devastating disease.
Would you take your kid to a chicken pox party?
If so, share this post so folks know to give you a call if their child gets the pox!
I’m currently at home sick with some mild form of bronchitis, I think. Bone broth has never tasted so good. If I had kids I’d probably take them to a chicken pox party, or arrange one, provided their health was good. My brother got chicken pox when he was a toddler (we’re not sure from who) and then gave it to my grade school self, and my brother who was in middle school at the time. We came through it okay but I remember it being boring and uncomfortable. I scratched when I shouldn’t have and still have a tiny scar to this day. I’m glad I got it so young, and that I’m naturally immune now. As a prepper, natural immunities are invaluable.
Pox parties are wonderful!!!!
My kids got chicken pox from a visiting friend who’s dd had been exposed 3 weeks before and never showed signs, they assumed it didn’t take. I did want them to get it but my dd was only 9 months and I didn’t plan for it that young, best chance for lifelong immunity is after a year. All in all I’m glad they got it over with. It wasn’t awful, no scars, lasted as expected. My ds was almost 4 and dealt with it like a champ.
What about if you’ve never gotten the chicken pox? I’m now 23, and I’ve never had the chicken pox, despite being in close contact numerous times during childhood to friends and other people who came down with the chicken pox the very next day. Do I have natural immunity? haha. Is it bad that I’ve never gotten the chicken pox? Everyone says I should get the vaccine because if you get the chicken pox when you’re older it can be much worse, but I don’t want to…
My husband never had chickenpox and I worry that he’ll get it. You’re actually protected from shingles by never having had chickenpox. According to the national institute on aging, you should stay away from people who have chickenpox or shingles for the rest of your life.
“No, shingles is not a contagious disease. You can’t catch shingles from someone who has it. But, you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. So, if you’ve never had chickenpox, try to stay away from anyone who has shingles.” – From http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/shingles
Shingles is the reactivation of the virus in your nerve cells when you get older.
And can be caused by stress. My 35yo brother recently had shingles, we both had chicken pox when we were kids. Apparently the virus was dormant in his system all this time, and even though having chicken pox and repeated exposure is supposed to strengthen immunity. It did not in his case, and has to be careful about stress and other factors since.
You can get tested to see if you’re immune. I just did because I’m pregnant and it’s routine – I tested positive because I had it as a kid. Maybe you had a really mild case at some point. At least then you’d know and could decide it you want to get vaccinated at this point.
I’d suggest getting tested. You might have had a mild form as a child and actually are immune. If you aren’t immune, you should probably consider your options. My mother never get the chicken pox. When my brother and I did, the doctor suggested that she stay out of the house to limit her chance of getting it because it could be so severe in adults. Of course, I don’t know how effective that really was (although she didn’t get sick) as chicken pox is one of those illnesses with a kind of long incubation period. Once the vaccine came out in the 90s she did opt to get it as she works at an elementary school, but you should consider your personal circumstances. If you aren’t in contact with children your risk is probably pretty low.
I never had chicken pox but I must have been exposed to it at some point during childhood as when my chicken pox antibody levels were tested as part of pre natal blood tests I had really high levels. Maybe I just had a really mild case and no one picked up on it! Ask your doctor to test your antibody levels.
It’s funny you mention this because I was one of those kids whose mother tried to give them chicken pox, and it never worked. I had multiple play dates with my best friend when she had chicken pox and didn’t catch it. My mom was so disappointed, and finally when I was fifteen and it seemed like I wouldn’t get another chance to get it as a kid, I was vaccinated.
Allie – I never contracted chicken pox despite also being in close contact many times. When I was 29 and pregnant with my first baby I was tested and I do have antibodies. In your case I would assume you are immune before I ran out to get the vaccine. You can always have your titers checked if you are really concerned.
My friend had adult chicken pox and without us knowing we hung out with her for the day (she didn’t know at the time that the symptoms she was experience were chicken poxs). After she found out she notified us and I was concerned for my daughter who was a baby at the time and was prepared to spend some time at home caring for her BUT she never came down with symptoms. Weeks went by and nothing. My friend pick her up and kissed her, snuggled her the whole time we were with her so you’d think that something had to pass between the two. I later found out that because I was still breast feeding that my daughter probably pick up my antibodies (I had chicken pox when I was a child and survived just fine). I think Pox parties are a really good idea.
Although I had my children vaccinated I decided to skip the Varicella vaccine and to see if they would catch it on their own and I am so glad I did. I have no idea where they picked up the illness as they were 3 and 1 at the time and home with me, but they both had full-blown cases. We had several people stop by for playdates. 3 out of 7 children came down with the illness after our playdates. It was definitely “inconvenient” for me, as my oldest caught it first, was sick for 2 weeks and as soon as it cleared up her sister came down with it. Even though it was difficult having to stay home all the time, etc., I feel that it was worth it and consider it an investment in their future. If they had not come down with chicken pox on their own I definitely would have attended a pox party if I had been invited to one.
I took my then 4 YO to a pox party with one kif in full pox mode and the other in the very beginnings. I thought for sure she’d get it and boy did I want her to. It would have been perfect timing at age 4. And all we got from that pox party was disapointment, unfortunately.
Then 3 years later my genious ex-husband took her to get the chicken pox vaccine because, as the man in a family of 3 doctors, he thought it was a great idea. I came unglued. (Almost as much as I did when he took her for a haircut!! But I digress…) This was way before I even became jiggy to vaccines, but somehow I just always knew the chickenpox one was stupid and a total waste.
So here am all these years later, she is now 18 and he keeps reminding me to get the booster. Yeah, sure I will. Her booster is ferments, ferments and more ferments, elderberry, and FCLO!
Lynn D. says
Just so you know, having chicken pox as a kid does not guarantee you will not also get them again as an adult. You can also have it come out as shingles, which can be very painful, I hear. I had chicken pox when I was about 6. My brother and sister also got them. They were 5 and 4, respectively. I know I was very sick with them, bad enough I remember laying in bed crying as my brother and sister played around me so they could catch them at the same time. I got them again around the time I turned 31. It was terrible and I developed pneumonia to go with it so I ended up in the hospital. The year my sister turned 30, she also caught the chicken pox again. I’m sure this doesn’t happen a lot but I have heard of other people also catching chicken pox again when they were older as well.
I was about to post the same thing. The belief that you are immune to having chicken pox again, and that chicken pox as a child makes you permanently immune to shingles is a myth. I had chicken pox twice, after having it normally as a child (I never had the vaccine), and I’ve had the shingles. It’s unlikely to get it twice, but it’s not impossible. And many people had the shingles after having the chicken pox as a child before the vaccine was ever invented.
Getting vaccinated and preventing the chicken pox, is one major way to prevent shingles! The chicken pox virus is the same virus that causes shingles, after getting chicken pox, the virus hides out in the nerve cell bodies of your nervous system for a LIFETIME. It is usually latent, but can spread and lead to the shingles, especially as you age and your immune system weakens.If you do not get vaccinated and you have these chicken pox parties your child will have this virus FOREVER. Please please please, get vaccinated.
Ashley P says
When I was 4, my cousin Richard got the chicken pox. My mom practically RUBBED me on him to make me catch it. I did, had oatmeal baths for a week, and got over it. I’ve seen what the chicken pox vaccine does, having worked in a health care setting. We had one patient who had contracted shingles. Almost all of our nurses were from the Caribbean where they vaccinate for chicken pox. Since none of them had ever had chicken pox, none of them could tend this patient without putting themselves at risk of getting shingles themselves. We ultimately had to refer the patient to another facility after spending nearly a week trying to find someone who could care for her. It was awful.
I hope I get the chance to help my son get chicken pox. But with most of the kids being vaccinated for it these days, I might just be out of luck.
It is such a weird concept to me that we have a vaccine for chicken pox. Chicken pox was a part of childhood growing up. I had it when I was around 4. I have one memory of being itchy and that’s it. I actually had a terrible time with vaccines and the last time, before starting school, I had my last set of shots and got terribly sick. My doctor and mom made the decision to stop all vaccines with the exception of a tetanus shot later on. I am not sure why we as a society are ok with the idea of having a vaccine for every problem. I am not knocking parents who vaccinate or don’t. But we already know that there are superbugs because of using antibacterial soap so why aren’t we applying the same common sense here? I am worried for the future. We never know the consequences. Now I am worrying for my relatives who could later have shingles.
My niece never had the chickenpox, or the vaccine, but interestingly, before coming for a visit with her family, my sister arranged to have a blood titer test performed to see if she had antibodies since my kids were recovering from chickenpox at the time. Her titer indicated that she was already immune–without the vaccine, and without knowingly every contracting chickenpox. Apparently she’d been exposed and her body dealt with it without the typical symptoms! All that to say, if you have older kids or if you are an adult who’s never had chickenpox, consider getting a blood test (titer) to determine if you have antibodies before getting the vaccine.
I second this recommendation! My daughter’s school accepted her titer and did not require the vaccine! She did later get a mild case, but I am glad she has the natural immunity now.
As a child, I tried to catch chicken pox when a cousin of mine had it. It didn’t work, but a couple years later, I had a mild case of it, and a much more severe case a year or two later. I think it’s a personal decision to attend a chicken pox party, but I in no way frown upon it. My only suggestion is to make sure all kids who stop by are healthy, and also make sure all adults have had a moderate to severe case of it themselves. Since chicken pox is much more dangerous in adults, and it’s very possible to contract chicken pox more than once if you’ve only had a (or multiple) mild cases, you really don’t want to risk the parent of a child attending ending up seriously ill if it could possibly be avoided.
In the UK a chickenpox vaccine isn’t routinely offered, which immediately makes me rather cynical that it is in the US (regardless of any other cynicism that I have regarding vaccines).
However, regarding shingles, my understanding (due to father who is a biomedical scientist and stepmother who is an immunologist) is that you develop shingles and to do so, you need to have had chicken pox beforehand. Having had chicken pox, the virus remains in your body, dormant. Shingles is the re-activation of the virus in your body (stress being one possible trigger).
As I understand it, if you haven’t had chicken pox as a child, your contact as an adult with the virus would still give you chicken pox, not shingles, because shingles is the reactivation of that virus. HOWEVER, someone who hasn’t had chickenpox before could develop chicken pox from being in contact with someone with shingles. You do not ‘catch’ shingles.
I personally wouldn’t vaccinate and I think many people here would just look at you blankly at the suggestion of a chickenpox vaccine – yes, chickenpox can be dangerous, but for the most part it’s a common childhood illness that is seen as a bit of a minor inconvenience here 😉
I would imagine (off my own bat, having not thought to discuss the chicken pox vaccine with family, as, like I said, it’s just not routinely offered here) that, as a live virus, it would have the same effect as ‘full’ chickenpox and still remain dormant settled within your system. However, maybe because the virus has been tampered with it makes the developing of shingles more likely in the future?
I don’t know on that front, but did want to point out the actual link between chickenpox and shingles.
As you’ve said, good food (etc) is a key factor in maintaining good health 🙂
Having chicken pox instead of the vaccine does not mean that you can’t get shingles. The generation that is getting shingles now did not even have the option of the vaccine when they were kids. Not that I believe in the vaccine, I just think you are overstating the protection the disease gives you against shingles. I would really like to see some hard data on this, but it probably doesn’t even exist.
I think you are misunderstanding. You can only get shingles if you have had the chicken pox. I don’t know if the vaccine for chicken pox protects you from shingles later. Historically, kids had the chicken pox, grew up, had kids and were given a little booster of their own when their own kids and then grand kids had it. There is an epidemic of older people getting shingles because they are no longer getting their immunity boosted by the wild virus. Not only do kids need chicken pox parties, so do our grand parents!
I agree with the previous poster. I know plenty of people who have gotten shingles, who certainly never got the vaccine and would have had the chicken pox instead. I can’t imagine that many people who have gotten the vaccine are even old enough to get shingles. I’m not necessarily in favor of the vaccine, but I have trouble believing some of these claims.
Also, in my case, I only had one small pox as a child, yet later tested completely immune with a titer. Because of this, I think it would be possible for a child to have gotten such a mild case that it went unnoticed, yet the child would be immune.
Apparently it is possible for it to pass un-noticed (be very mild, maybe a spot or two on the scalp) meaning future immunity (although it is possible to have chicken pox more than once – one of my sons has).
Ive actually had chicken pox 3 times as a child, so did my brother. HOW you say..lol..if you never got the “full” virus, you could actually contract it again. I had the vaccines as a child <since my mother didnt know any better" and still got the virus 3 times. Now as an adult I have shingles…lemme tell ya when they pop up they suck!!!! I usually only get them on my fingers, but my hand become essentially useless at that time, until they go away. I now have to watch my son like a hawk, so I dont infect him. He has yet to have chicken pox @8 yrs old and would love to get him to a pox party, so hopefully he wont have to go through what I do. I do agree with playing down the fact that shingles doesnt happen as much with the appearance of chicken pox as a child. Ive been through both…with the vaccine. I just honestly depends on your and how they will deal with the virus.
Lifelong immunity is a myth of sorts. It’s easy to find many cases of people who have had chicken pox more than once. However the one issue for me that is most concerning is that because of this vaccine latent exposure to wild virus is lessened. We who have had chicken pox just DONT come into contact with enough wild virus to keep our immunity challenged. Hence the increase in reinfection and possibly the increase in shingles in younger and younger individuals. Thus is an instance when a childhood disease that was a childhood disease should have been left alone. And I did nearly died from secondary infection at age 8 from chicken pox and have non vaccinated kids. We are damned if we do vaccinate and damned if we don’t. It’s very very frustrating.
The problem is finding someone with chicken pox. Haven’t heard of any yet. Someone, I know, took their kids to a person house who thought their kids had chicken pox, but they had hand, foot, and mouth disease. Make sure it’s chicken pox. I am tempted to have my children’s chicken pox titers checked. I’ve heard of so many cases of children who are immune to it, yet never had symptoms.
Funny you should post this. Chicken pox have been going through our family for about 4 weeks now, even among the vaccinated! I personally think since there is a vaccine for it, people are scared of it. The kids have dealt with them well and I’m excited to about be done with it. In fact my kids rarely complain of discomfort. When they do I mist a mixture of water, peppermint oil and lavender oil over the areas that itch.
Ann Swartz says
No! Please, no! Chicken pox does not give immunity to adult shingles. On the contrary, that’s what causes shingles. The chicken pox virus lies dormant in the body. Under certain conditions it can then come back as shingles. I waited and waited for the chicken pox vaccine to arrive, but my preschoolers caught the virus before it came out. My son came down with shingles as a college student. (They’re now in their 30’s)
If you’ve ever known an elderly person with post-heretic neuralgia, you won’t want to put your children at risk by subjecting them to chicken pox.
you forget that the vaccine does not make you immune to shingles either! actually some children now get shingles after the had the chickenpox vaccine!
there is no easy answer on how you can avoid getting sick – with what ever! wish as we might
If you are in favor of the vaccine, have it, but know about the side effects and that is not a guarantee 🙁
most elderly get shingles because of a lowered immune system! my dad had them once he had cancer!
College can also be a stressful time with little sleep and poor nutrition and the chickenpox virus can easily wake up again at that point 🙁
peace be with you, Ann!
Now where did she state that getting the vaccine would protect you from Shingles. The only way you are never going to get shingles is if you’ve never had chicken pox. If you’ve had the chicken pox vaccine you are less likely to get chicken pox, which means you won’t get shingles.
Gudrun B says
she stated she wished her son could have received a vaccine, instead he came down with CP and as a result later got shingles – my comment to that was that having had the vaccine is no guarantee not to get shingles
why are you twisting this?
My husband and I both had Chicken Pox as kids (unvaccinated ) and just last month hubby contracted Shingles, after being in direct daily contact with a colleague who didn’t realise he had chicken pox. Two weeks later my 5yr old contracted chicken pox. Every person who I’ve mentioned Shingles to in the last month has said either they’ve had it or know someone who’s had it. All in the age group of the non vax era. It seems to be fairly common.
So far my two littlest children have not shown any signs of Chicken Pox. One other child in my sons class has contracted it (he showed signs the day after my son). I’m not a fan of a Chicken Pox Party. I’m not willing to be responsible for deliberately infecting other peoples children. If you’ve got 2 willing parentals, an infector and infectee, than go ahead. But not for me. I was asked by 3 different parents. One wanted to infect her baby. I couldn’t live with myself if something went awry for their children.
chickenpox is the one child hood illness i never got 🙁 mys sister and i had plenty of measles, whooping cough, rubeola, or just a bad cold parties 🙂 – side note: my sister always had asthma type incidents until she had the whooping cough, after that never again!
my kids had the chicken pox! one, two, three, all a week apart. I was sure i would be next! never a thing! yet, i got tested for all sorts of anti bodies at one point and wouldn’t you know, i had plenty! my poor sister however, contracted them some how at the age of 32 and was miserable! To the point that i was supposed to see her, get them as well and we can do like when we were kids, be sick together, just because it is fun that way 🙂 so sure, party away, if that is what you like 🙂
Just wanted to add my 2 cents. I had chicken pox as a child and had a severe case of shingles after the birth of my third child. After having it for about a month, and feeling very desperate a friend called and told me about a product that she knew about that cured hers. It is called Ultra 1, Ultra 2, and Ultra 3 from the World Health Mall. I took it and 15 minutes later 80 % of my pain was gone and with in 3 days it was all gone. I was very skeptical and if I had not experienced it personally, would not have believed it possible. All the doctor could give me was steroids and those did nothing, motrin barely helped my pain, but this stuff was phenomenal and I believe will work for chicken pox, also. Meaning you could get chicken pox and then take Ultra series and be done. Anyway, hope that helps someone.
Lily G says
From the research that I’ve done, acquiring chicken pox naturally does not carry the lifetime immunity that we once thought it did. CP is a member of the Herpes family of viruses. It never leaves your body. It simply falls asleep and lies dormant in the nerve endings. When the body forgets its immune response to CP, the virus can reawaken as shingles. A large part of the elderly population are getting shingles. These people acquired CP as children and were never vaccinated for it. The “lifetime immunity” came from being re-exposed to CP over the course of one’s lifetime. You got it as a child for the first time and your body produced antibodies in response to the infection. When you became a parent, your own children acquired it and your antibodies were boosted. Then you were exposed to it out in society and once again when your grandchildren acquired it. Without a steady presence of CP, one would have to be vigilant about seeking out these CP parties throughout their lifetime to remain immune and to prevent future cases of shingles when the body “forgets” its immune response to CP. We won’t be vaccinating for CP, but exposing them to CP could prove problematic as well. If they can’t find enough cases over the course of their lifetime to maintain their immunity, they may eventually develop shingles and have to deal with that the rest of their lives.
Yes, but the question is, does having the vaccine make it more or less likely or possible you will get shingles? Does anyone know this or will we not know until this vaccinated generation gets old and grey?
The vaccine means you are less likely to get Chicken Pox, therefore you’ll be less likely to get Shingles. Never had Chicken Pox? Then you’ll never have shingles. Had the chicken pox? It’s possible you’ll get Shingles.
The following excerpt of the original article is incorrect:
“Getting chicken pox as a kid means you have life-long immunity to the varicella virus. When a child gets the disease naturally, every time they are subsequently exposed to the illness after that, their immune system actually grows stronger against the virus so that by adulthood they have become immune to the more severe and dangerous form of adult varicella called shingles. (source)”
Someone besides Shara please respond. I do not believe for a minute that the chicken pox vaccine prevents shingles. Someone must know about this.
Gudrun B says
here is what pediatrics.about.com says:
” “The vaccine is a live attenuated strain of the chickenpox virus,” says Philip R. Krause, M.D., lead research investigator in the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “However, it’s a weaker form so it gives rise to a milder infection. But in the course of giving rise to this milder infection, it induces enough immunity to prevent people from getting the natural infection.” It is estimated that the vaccine is between 75 and 85 percent effective in preventing chickenpox. “But the important thing,” says Krause, “is that it is almost completely effective in preventing severe cases of chickenpox.”
Now that we have a chickenpox vaccine, are shingles and PHN on their way out? Although the FDA hasn’t evaluated the effects of the vaccine on shingles, Krause believes that “in the long term, if you can prevent enough people from getting the wild (natural) type of chickenpox, you’re likely to see a beneficial effect on the incidence of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia. But it may take several generations for this to happen.””
you can also look at this:
New research published in the International Journal of Toxicology (IJT) by Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D., reveals high rates of shingles (herpes zoster) in Americans since the government’s 1995 recommendation that all children receive chicken pox vaccine. from
read the whole story there
I’m not sure what you mean now? I get the idea from your comments that we are in agreement. I agree that the CP vax does not prevent shingles. So I’m not sure what you don’t understand about my reply?
Sylvia Mahoney says
I’m a kid from the 60’s. We all got some form of chicken pox growing up. No one had “parties”, I just think the virus was around enough that it moved through neighborhoods. I would not ever take my kid intentionally to a virus party.
Yes, I was under the impression chicken pox was a form of herpes virus, and that shingles are caused by latent virus from an earlier exposure. You are definitely not protected from not getting shingles later in life. Why in the world anyone would try to purposely give them the virus is beyond me. This information is all on Wikipedia or Pub Med.
Since it seems the theory of vaccines that getting the vaccine is similar to having a mild case of the disease (immunologically speaking), then there should be not much of a difference in incidence of shingles post-disease vs. post-vaccine. I question whether ANYTHING can prevent shingles except super healthy living, which is not always possible, and dumb luck.
Do you mean, that seeing as the vaccine contains the virus, wouldn’t that mean that we are just as susceptible to getting the shingles as if we actually had had Chicken Pox?
I’m sorry if you thought I was being argumentative, I wasn’t! Just misunderstood your question. It’s something I’ve been researching a bit over the last month as my husband has had Shingles, closely followed by my son having Chicken Pox. My 2 oldest children had the vax but my baby isn’t old enough yet. But I’m going to do as you suggested and have him tested for immunity, maybe we can skip the vax.. Seeing as he’s been quite exposed to both viruses.
Yes, your statement:
“The vaccine means you are less likely to get Chicken Pox, therefore you’ll be less likely to get Shingles. Never had Chicken Pox? Then you’ll never have shingles. Had the chicken pox? It’s possible you’ll get Shingles.”
implied to me that if you didn’t get chickenpox because you had the vaccine, then you would not be susceptible to shingles. Whereas, I think if you had the vaccine, it is basically exposing your body to the disease but in a (theoretically) more controlled manner. So the only person who would not be susceptible to shingles would have to be someone who had never had any exposure to the varicella virus (thru contact or vaccine). Which would be impossible to achieve in the real world.
Another commenter posted this article
which suggests that by regular exposure to “wild” varicella after having it as children, they could avoid shingles. I guess not in your husband’s case! I did not mean to be argumentative either, I just find these vaccine debates so polarizing but I am always trying to get the information to make really informed decisions for my family. I am against “knee-jerk” arguments about vaccines, either pro or con.
Chickenpox vaccines contain weakened live VZV, which may cause latent (dormant) infection. The vaccine-strain VZV can reactivate later in life and cause shingles. However, the risk of getting shingles from vaccine-strain VZV after chickenpox vaccination is much lower than getting shingles after natural infection with wild-type VZV. For more information about how natural infection with wild-type VZV causes shingles, see Shingles Overview. Lab testing is needed to determine if a person got shingles from vaccine-strain VZV or from wild-type VZV.
So yes you can get shingles from the vaccine, but at a much lower rate than those who get it from the wild virus.
I usually avoid vax chat, but was interested in this post as it been such a hot topic in our house.
If that convinces you that the immunity from the shot is better, then have at it. It does not convince me. It seems clear that we will not know for decades what the effects of the CP vaccine will be on shingles incidence. But my money is on natural immunity over a vaccine immunity, at least for varicella (other shots, not so much).
Back in the day, when I was a kid, our mothers made sure we got the Chicken Pox…even stuffing a qtip up a sick kid’s nose to stuff it up some other kid’s nose….we’ve all lived to talk about it, and I’ve never heard of any of us getting Shingles!
I would love to take my daughter to a chicken pox party, when she’s a little older (she’s only 19 months old, right now, and I’m not sure that’s far enough from infancy yet – thoughts appreciated). But…I’m really really scared and torn. I have never had chicken pox. I was vaccinated, but not the full schedule, and we no longer vaccinate so to my understanding I no longer have any benefits from it. I’m closing in on 30, and I already have a lot of health issues (PCOS, Hypothyroidism, PTSD, back injury, knee injuries, migraines, and quite possibly Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome…still working with my doctor to figure it all out). I’m terrified of contracting Shingles!! I’m not sure if I should get vaccinated myself because I’ve missed the window for getting chicken pox safely, or…?? I’d really appreciate some insight!
Sylvia Mahoney says
@Alena. Sound’s like you may need to discuss with your immunologist rather than a blog regarding this. Said with love and concern.
Great, thoughtful article.
I should point out, though, that an immunity to shingles – or even chickenpox – isn’t guaranteed, even if you have chicken pox as a toddler or elementary school kid. (Second outbreaks aren’t uncommon if the first infection was before age two.) Most people do develop that immunity; hey, people used to intentionally get chickenpox to avoid smallpox!
But . . . my best friend is in her mid thirties. She has had chickenpox three times, and shingles twice! (Or is it the other way around?) Her first case of chickenpox was around age four or five; her most recent outbreak was a case of shingles two or three years ago.
Then there’s my mom. She got the smallpox vaccine THREE TIMES; twice as a kid, then the third time when she joined the USO during the Vietnam War. The characteristic scar never developed, and she was declared immune. She also proved immune to chickenpox; she didn’t get sick when one sibling did, she nursed all three of us and my cousin through the disease, and helped out by babysitting numerous infected kids. But around age sixty-two, she developed shingles! (My eldery grandmother had it, and my mom assumed she was immune; she’s my grandmother’s caregiver.) Though she has compromised health now, she was very healthy as a kid.
So there is a small chance they can still get shingles or chickenpox later, but it happens to very few people.
I wanted to add – I had chicken pox THREE TIMES as a kid. I guess the first two times weren’t enough to take regarding antibodies. That said, I am not protected from shingles. Your best bet against getting shingles (chicken pox or not) is a strong immune system, even in older age.
So – the next question is… Living in Orange County – with a 3yo… How does one go about finding a chicken pox party?
Chicken Pox Immunity Network has a ever-growing membership of like-minded people who want to share the natural immunity of Chickenpox. Join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/701669623184647/
Hello! Thanks a bunch for putting all this information together in a single post. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve linked to your site from my site, which is an information site for parents around the topic of vaccinations. I also used your picture as part of the post linking to this article – http://vaccinereading.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/chicken-pox-party/
Please feel free to let me know if there is any problem with this.
I was happy to find your site yesterday and will look forward to following your blog!
Hi Carla, thanks for your comment. I don’t mind as long as you link back to my site. Glad you are enjoying the site.
Pixie PoxfairyChicken says
https://www.facebook.com/groups/701669623184647/ There is a group on Facebook called Chicken Pox Natural Immunity Network. The group educates others on natural Chicken Pox exposure, risks of the CP vaccine, risks of natural exposure. For those who seek Chicken Pox there is more opportunity as there are outbreaks posted all the time. If your child contracts CP naturally and gets a blood test (titers) they can avoid the vaccine and future quarantine if the test shows immunity.
Kathy Uccello says
My 2 sisters and I all had chicken pox as children, in quick succession. (6 weeks of chicken pox for mom to deal with.) 1 of my sisters still contracted shingles while she was pregnant. (Luckily there were no ill effects to the baby.) So I don’t think I can buy the “chicken pox immunity for life arguement”. I probably still won’t vaccinate for it in my children, and hopefully they will get it naturally at a young age so I don’t have to purposely infect them.
My opinion is chicken pox parties are a dumb idea.
My child was a normal 2.5 year old who nearly died from complications of chicken pox. It can happen to anyone especially mixed with super bugs like staph or strep.
You can only have shoves if you’ve had chicken pox. You will only get a mild dose of chicken pox if you immunise.
You can test for immunity and have the shingles vaccination later in life.
Why subject your child to a disease that should be eradicated.
That’s shingles. Not shoves.