Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Chicken Pox on Your House

Growing up, chicken pox was a rite of passage. Everyone got it, and it kept you home from school for a week (which is approximately forever to a third-grader.) As it happens I got chicken pox during the blizzard of 1978, when school was closed for a week. So while the other kids played outside in a winter wonderland I had to sit inside trying not to scratch myself. I’ve been angry about that since.

But kids aren’t getting chicken pox anymore because they are being vaccinated. So GoofBoy and GoofGirl will never get a sense of the Biblical plague of being covered in boils. We are healthier, but are we poorer for it?

Fortunately, a small number of progressive parents are striving to bring back chicken pox. There are a number of good arguments against vaccines. First, vaccines are a form of witchcraft and that can’t be good. Second, too much use of vaccines will only encourage the disease to get stronger. I’m sure in our lifetimes we will see outbreaks of turkey pox, or worse – the dreaded ostrich pox.

Finally, kids seem to hate getting shots. I don’t know why kids hate shots so much. I try to explain how the tiny needles used now are nothing, when I was a kid they used harpoons and javelins. Recently we took the little Goofs for their flu shot. GoofBoy was stoic, but GoofGirl panicked, tried to escape and ran around the health center yelling variously, “Help! Help!” and “You are terrible parents!”

It did not help at all, that I kept laughing.

So I sympathize with the anti-vaccination parents.

But what impresses me is how these anti-vaccination parents go the extra mile. They really want their kids to have absolutely everything they had as kids. Not only do they spare their children the horrors of vaccination, they pro-actively seek to infect their children with chicken pox – which isn’t easy since no one gets it any more. Enter, the Internet. Now, folks can use Facebook and Twitter to share news of chicken pox outbreaks. You then contact the infected and they will send you tissues with infected saliva or partially licked lollypops so that you can then infect your own children.

This is not only disgusting, it is also illegal (bio-warfare and all) and, best of all in sort of an ultimate irony – it isn’t even effective. Chicken pox is transmitted through air, not saliva. Still I am impressed with the can-do spirit these parents possess. Because in doing what they think is right for their kids they are effectively treating themselves to a week or so at home with a whiny, pox-covered kid.

There is another word to describe that kind of dedication…

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