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On Chicken Pox and Society

admin December 1, 2015

chicken pox and society

A couple weeks ago, my oldest got chicken pox.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the full story with you, on how she did with it and how we treated it naturally.  Today, though, I want to focus on a very different issue.

On Chicken Pox and Society

The last three Sundays, I have had to stay home from church. (and everywhere else.)

The first week, my daughter actually had chicken pox, so we obviously couldn’t go.  (My husband did, because he was serving in ministry, but I stayed home with the kids.)  The second week, my husband and daughter went, as she was over it and safe to go, but I stayed back with the boys because they were still within the incubation period.  They weren’t sick, though, or even likely to be contagious at that point.  Same deal this last Sunday.

I thought about it a lot.  The incubation period of chicken pox is 14 – 17 days.  After the first few days, we could be fairly sure that my boys hadn’t been exposed at the same time as my daughter had, or they would have gotten it quickly.  We knew that they had been exposed to her, obviously.  They weren’t likely to get sick, show any symptoms, or be contagious to others until they were approaching that 14-day mark.  Even so, we kept them home during the entire incubation period.

Why?

I knew, especially around the holidays, that others might not be comfortable being around them if there was even a chance they could be contagious.  People did not want their children sick for Thanksgiving.  They did not want to expose their under-a-year babies.  Some with vaccines even noted that they didn’t want to put those vaccines “to the test.”

I listened to that.  And I protected them, by keeping my children home.  I believe that I owe it to society to avoid spreading illness knowingly.

It’s too bad we didn’t and don’t get the same consideration.

chicken pox and society pinterest

Going Out in Public Sick…or Vaccinated

We live in a major city.  We are around thousands of different people when we go out to parks, stores, etc.  Many of these people, especially if we’re in a museum with lots of kids, have been recently vaccinated.

The thing is, the varicella shot (chicken pox shot) is a live virus.  It can shed to others and cause infection.  Since wild chicken pox is now so rare, it is very likely that my daughter picked it up from someone who was shedding after vaccination.

Live vaccines (MMR, varicella, rotavirus, FluMist) can shed for up to 21 days after they are given.  Rotavirus actually sheds very easily in feces, so if someone changes a baby’s diaper and doesn’t wash their hands — that happens a lot — they can spread it (it can actually spread up to 28 days).

But no one knows that.  They’re either not told, or they’re lied to and said it doesn’t happen.  They aren’t told that they are a risk to others, especially if they go out around days 4 – 7 after vaccination (those were the highest shedding days, according to some studies I read).  In public, they could come across infants, or those with compromised immune systems.  It just doesn’t even occur to them to stay home.

Worse, some people go out in public sick.  Like, knowing they are sick.  There are people who are legitimately in a tough spot sometimes — have to go to work or risk losing a job, have to go to school or be considered truant, or have to go to the pharmacy/grocery because family has to get medicine or eat.  I know that’s really hard, and I’m not targeting them.

But the people who go to church, to museums, to lessons, to after school clubs and parties — all the fun, optional stuff — while sick.  “Oh, well, he’s hacking up a lung and his nose is running but we just didn’t want to miss out on the fun!”  No.  Irresponsible.

Why It Matters

I’m not a germaphobe.  I don’t actually care all that much if my kids are exposed to minor illnesses.  It’s sometimes inconvenient, and oh please, not the stomach bugs….  But, it’s part of life to catch something now and then.  And, it’s part of being in society.  Life isn’t perfect, people do go out when they’re sick (whether they need to or not).

But.

It’s the double standard that is utterly ridiculous.  When my kids got chicken pox, and were in the incubation period, then I kept them home to protect them, and to protect others.  But mostly to protect others.  The vast majority of the time, my kids were not sick, and felt strong and healthy and were begging to be allowed to go out.  (Especially the ones who haven’t gotten it.)

But, others, especially those who vaccinate, are unaware of the impact they can have on others through shedding, and go out all the time.  And, many people go out while sick because they just don’t want to miss out.  They aren’t paying attention to others’ needs.  They don’t care.

So, people who don’t vaccinate are accused of spreading illness.  This family who doesn’t vaccinate is responsible!  But we’re still vilified, for no reason at all.  Meanwhile, everyone else is going out while sick, and spreading illnesses for sure, but that’s okay, because…why?  Because they did what society said and vaccinated, I suppose.

This double standard isn’t okay.

Either we, as a society, need to decide that being exposed to illness sometimes is just something that happens when you live in a group and we accept that; or, we change the way our society works to support people in staying away from society when sick (better leave policies from work/school, options for delivery of meds/food when needed, etc.).

But, we don’t get to have different rules for those who vaccinate and those who don’t.  Everyone must get treated the same.  Someone’s medical decisions aren’t anyone else’s business, anyway.

Have we gotten to the point where we can agree on that?  I don’t feel it’s fair that I’m choosing to quarantine my kids to protect others’ kids, when someone who was likely recently vaccinated didn’t extend me the same courtesy — and that’s why we’re here.  I’d say it’s, oh, exactly like those people who complained in the January measles outbreak that they had to quarantine their kids because of “unvaccinated children” (when in reality most were exposed by vaccinated people who got sick anyway — and none of them developed measles!).

Either we blame everyone…or no one.

I say no one.  Life isn’t perfect, illness happens.  It just does.  I’m really not mad at whoever exposed my kids.  I’m sure they didn’t know.  I’m just mad that they are considered blameless by all, but people have suggested suing parents who don’t vaccinate who even inadvertently expose others.  That is completely and totally and ridiculously unfair.

Enough already.  Really.  We’re better than this.  We’re better than the fear and the lies we’ve been sold.  We can stop blaming everyone, stop being afraid of everything, and just accept that life isn’t perfect.  We can.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow, to discuss what chicken pox is really like, and find out how we treated it naturally!

How do you feel about chicken pox and society and the double standard that exists?

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  1. Thank you for this. Exactly my thoughts. Love all your posts. Keep it up. 🙂

    Reply

  2. “We can stop blaming everyone, stop being afraid of everything, and just accept that life isn’t perfect. We can.”

    I love this.

    Reply

  3. My son got chicken pox at 1 ear old (wasn’t vaccinated against it yet…we still did vaccines back then) and he got a high fever and three, YES THREE, spots. I knew several people whose children were vaccinated and got sicker (I mean, still not that sick).

    Anyway. You are right. We need to stop being afraid. Fear leads to hate, right?

    Reply

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I especially think it’s ridiculous that health care workers have to get a flu shot or wear a mask, yet there is no rule about them going to work sick.

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  5. Thank you for this post. It sums up exactly how I feel, and you encouraged me.

    Reply

  6. Thank you so much for all of this. This is EXACTLY how I feel and the world needs to change.

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  7. I had no idea that kids could be contagious after a vaccine. To all who my family may have exposed to sickness I am sooooo sorry!!!! You better believe I will be keeping my kids home in the future and asking our pediatrician why this information was neglected. Thank you so much for writing about this. 🙂

    Reply

  8. I remember being a kid and having my mom bring me to a friends house who had chicken pox so that I’d get it. Would you ever suggest this and if so at what age? I have an unvaccinated 13 month old.

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  9. Thank you for writing this. I am one of the people who have to live in constant fear that others have been vaccinated. Back to school time, I can’t go to the stores, I am pretty much confined to my house, because I am highly sensitive to vaccines. Exposure to them could kill me. I wish more people realized the dangers they can cause others.

    I would love it -if vaccinated people would have to wait a day or so to expose the world. It would make my life a little less scary

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  10. Many people have to really search for them! I agree about keeping sick kids home no matter what they have. Thing with pox, though is that they are most contagious the day or two before spots appear so it depends on if one knows they were exposed. While 14-17 days is average, 10-21 days is the incubation. We’ve had stomach bugs worse than my kids having pox.

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  11. “But, others, especially those who vaccinate, are unaware of the impact they can have on others through shedding, and go out all the time.” Hmmm, I’m curious if this is based on research or opinion. So you’re saying people who vaccinate are less aware of the impact of shedding than those who do not vaccinate? This would be more powerful if it were research based. I don’t feel strongly either way, but as an unbiased reader, this comes across as defensive, from being “villified.” “Either we blame everyone or we blame no one.” Contradictory.

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  12. I went out and read about varicella shedding. It said reported shedding is rare and leads to a much milder form of the illness because the virus is weakened.

    A problem with wild-type chicken pox is the patient is contagious before symptoms even begin, and when the fever starts (one hopes the parent would keep a feverish child home), and no longer contagious when scanned over – at least that was the general belief when I was growing up. So chicken pox can be spread by unvaccinated children when parents don’t even know they are sick yet. Vaccinated children, if parents know which vaccines can shed, can avoid possibly exposing people altogether.

    Just curious. Do you ever worry you will convince so many people to not vaccinate that annual outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella, etc., will come back and children could be at risk of catching disease regularly?

    Reply

  13. I know this is an old post but you failed to mention that vaccine shedding is a very rare event. You can’t compare an unvaccinated ill child (who likely infected your daughter) and the millions of healthy children getting shots. Chicken pox would still be very common if shedding was a big concern. Think about how many children in school and daycare get these shots! I’ve never seen a case of chicken pox in my entire life. I was 4 and don’t remember my case. I support choice for parents but please dont give false or exaggerated information. You are assuming your daughter was infected by shedding when it could have easily been an unvaccinated child like your own.

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  14. I have a question. My daughter has the chicken pox now. She was vaccinated a month and a half ago. She is 13 almost 14 months old. She has never ran a fever and broke out in a mild rash just a few days ago. Why does she have chicken pox after being vaccinated? Our dr wasn’t very good at answering this question…..

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  15. Love your post! Just finished 3 weeks with six children taking turns with chicken pox and feel exactly like you!! Greetings from South Africa

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  16. I realize this is an old post, but I just wanted to say that BOTH of my kids, when they were each infants (at separate times) caught the chicken pox from kids who had just received the vaccine and brought their kids to the church nursery anyway. Doctors do not directly tell parents to keep their kids home after vaccinating, although there is info in the print-out they give you but many parents don t read through it. Shedding is NOT that rare, according to the CDC, 1 in 20 kids develop a contagious rash. In fact the CDC recommends you keep your child home for 21 days after receiving the vericella vaccine. However, there is no law preventing these newly vaccinated kids from going to school. It is unfair that unvaxxed get the blame for the spread of diseases that vaccinated kids are shedding!

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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