Growing up as a child of the 1980s, kids, like me, did not have the luxury of receiving a vaccine for chickenpox. Because chickenpox is often less severe in children and deadly in adults, mothers arranged chickenpox parties to spread the disease from one infected child to another. In 1995, the varicella vaccine for chickenpox became available for children. Since the introduction of the vaccine, I would assume that chickenpox parties are a thing of the past. However, chickenpox parties are alive and well. Earlier this week a nurse shared on a large anti-vaccine Facebook page offering to share the virus with other unvaccinated children. Now the mother, a registered nurse, is under investigation by the state nursing board for her party proposal.
The posts started earlier this week. A mother in Boulder, Colorado posted an update to a Facebook group Stop Mandatory Vaccination. Stop Mandatory Vaccination is a large Facebook group with over 145,000 members.
Despite the overall size of the group, the mother invited anyone in the Boulder area to come to her home. The woman’s adolescent son had an active chickenpox infection. She offered exposure to the disease and lifelong immunity to chickenpox.
While exposure to chickenpox may give a child lifelong immunity to chickenpox, the virus does remain in their bodies. Varicella, the virus causing chickenpox, can cause shingles to anyone that has previously had chickenpox. A child that gets chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles later in life.
Thankfully, there are vaccines for both chickenpox and shingles. However, the anti-vaccine community refuses these vaccines and instead they share the viruses.
After the mother shared the update to the group, the mother received messages from many in the group to attend the chickenpox party. Shortly after her first update, she posted more details about to the group.
According to the woman, her husband developed the shingles virus in September. Then her seven-year-old son came down with chickenpox. Next, the virus spread to her 17-year-old son.
The mother indicated her 7-year-old son’s recovered from the virus. However, her 17-year-old still had active blisters and appeared contagious for the disease. She said he felt weird about sharing the virus, but the mother invited people over to the house.
The Centers for Disease Control do not recommend chickenpox parties. On CDC website they say:
Chickenpox parties” have been held to intentionally expose a child with chickenpox to other children in hopes that they will get the disease. Chickenpox can be serious, especially for infants and even for some children. So, it is not worth taking the chance of exposing them to chickenpox. The best way to protect infants and children against chickenpox is to get them vaccinated. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine.
Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, who are not protected against chickenpox and cannot be vaccinated, are more likely to get a serious case of chickenpox. They should stay away from people with chickenpox and should not go to chickenpox parties.
Throughout the exchanges in the group, the mother told the group she was a registered nurse. Despite nurses being responsible for vaccine education for patients, she does not believe in vaccinations for her family.
Shortly after she posted the timeline for accepting visitors, the woman updated the group that she is under investigation by the Colorado RN board. She told the group her license is current and she needs to respond.
Anti-vaccine nurses are nothing new. We reported last in August about an anti-vaccine nurse in Texas. The nurse in Texas disclosed on an anti-vaccine page she treated a child with measles at a local Children’s hospital. In the group, she threatened to swab the child and bring home the measles to her unvaccinated teenage son.Outraged people around the country reported the nurse to the hospital. Following an investigation into the nurse’s activities, the hospital determined the nurse violated HIPAA violations. Due to the HIPAA violations by the nurse to the group, the hospital fired the nurse.
The nurse in Texas threatened to cause a public outbreak of the measles. In Colorado, the nurse offered, willingly, to spread the virus and create a chickenpox outbreak in Boulder. Our sources let us know they were responsible for reporting the woman to the Colorado Regulatory Agency. Sources provided us with a copy of the complaint response from the Colorado Regulatory Agency.
In the letter to our source, the agency said,
“The Colorado Board of Nursing has received your complaint concerning the above name licensee (redacted). A case has been opened based on the information you filed. Your complaint will be reviewed for violation of the Board’s statutes, rules, and regulations. The Board has jurisdiction to take disciplinary action only if the Board ultimately finds that the individual violated the Board’s Statutes and/or rules and regulations.
Please be aware the matter can take several months to resolve, but also be assured that you will be notified in writing the outcome of the complaint.”
For now, the pro-vaccine advocates, working to stop the spread of preventable diseases, have stopped another harmful nurse. In speaking with my sources, they are not sure if the nurse spread the virus via the chickenpox parties. However, they are confident the complaint stopped the nurse from inviting any other people into her home.
Chickenpox is a preventable virus when a child is adequately vaccinated. According to the CDC, before the vaccine was available 4 million Americans contracted chickenpox each year. 10,5000 people required hospitalization, and 100-150 died from the virus each year.
A nationwide study completed between 2015-2017 indicated that only 1039 cases were reported of chickenpox. 713 of the cases of chickenpox were in children not vaccinated for the virus. Vaccinated patients for chickenpox had milder forms of the virus and required no hospitalizations. The only children hospitalized for chickenpox did not receive the vaccination.
The facts are that the vaccine for chickenpox works. There is no need for anyone to have a chickenpox party. Get your child vaccinated and let the chickenpox parties stay in the 1980s where they belong.
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