Should I Vaccinate My Child for Chickenpox?

With W’s first birthday behind us, we’ve got 12-month shots in our immediate future. In addition to the panoply of vaccinations she’s been getting at her shot visits for the last year, she’s up for MMR and varicella (chickenpox) this time around. The MMR shot is one I am fervently in favor of, despite the fact that it’s one of the vaccinations most targeted by anti-vaxers. There’s a bit of discussion of the MMR vaccine in this SquintMom post, and there’s quite a bit more information here.

Photo by Jonnymccullagh, from Wikimedia Commons

While my feelings about MMR are unequivocal, I spent the weekend doing some research into the varicella vaccine, as I knew less about it. The anti-vax rhetoric I’ve heard suggests that the varicella vaccine is a bad idea because:

1)   it’s risky

2)   it could wear off in early adulthood

3)   chickenpox is a routine childhood illness

Normally, I don’t put too much stock in anti-vax rhetoric, but I had chickenpox myself (unlike measles), and it (obviously) didn’t kill me, so I’m more predisposed to sympathizing with the argument that chickenpox is a routine childhood illness than I am to agreeing with the same statement about measles. (Though it’s worth noting that since I had chickenpox when I was three, I don’t really remember it. In all likelihood, it was completely miserable, and if I could remember the experience, I’d probably be moved to vaccinate W purely out of sympathy. It’s very easy to sit in an armchair with chickenpox immunity and refer to it as a “routine childhood illness.”) The real sticking point for me — and the reason I did some extensive literature-searching on the topic — was that the vaccine is new (and it might wear off in early adulthood; we don’t know yet), and unlike many other illnesses, chickenpox is actually more serious in adults than in children. I looked into the varicella vaccine to convince myself that I wouldn’t be exposing W to increased risk of chickenpox later in life by vaccinating her now.

The varicella vaccine (sometimes given in combination with the MMR as the MMRV shot) is recommended by the CDC for all children ages 1-12, as well as for anyone over 13 who does not have evidence of chickenpox immunity. Anti-vax rhetoric suggesting that the vaccine is risky is erroneous. The vaccine is a live, attenuated (weakened) virus, and there is a very small chance of getting a mild rash upon vaccination. Serious side effects, including allergic reaction and seizures, are so rare that they can’t be definitively attributed to the vaccine (they’re so rare that they could be due to nothing more than chance). The most common side effect is soreness or redness, which is an indication that the immune system is working. This soreness is mild, and occurs in about 20% of people.

While the risk of a serious reaction to the varicella vaccine is too small to be accurately measured, the risk of death from chickenpox is much more significant. Of every 100,000 infants under 12 months infected with chickenpox, eight will die. Older children have a lower risk of death, but still die at the rate of two in 100,000 (Preblud et al). Far more common complications include bacterial infection of pox sores — which can lead to scarring — and febrile seizures. Chickenpox also typically results in a week or more of lost school time (plus a lot of misery) for children, as well as lost work time (plus sleeplessness and sympathetic misery) for the caregiver. Based upon an analysis of the relative risks, the chickenpox vaccine carries a lower risk of serious complication than acute effects of the chickenpox illness.

It’s also worth noting that anyone who develops chickenpox is susceptible to herpes zoster (shingles) later in life. The chickenpox virus is never fully eradicated from the body. Instead, those who get chickenpox eventually recover from their symptoms, but the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells. Later in life (typically in adults over 60, those under severe stress, and/or those with compromised immune systems), the virus can become active once again. The resulting rash is very painful, and can lead to scarring. It’s also often associated with symptoms of illness, including fever and joint pain. By preventing infection with chickenpox, a vaccinated child is spared the potential for developing shingles later in life.

There have been some popular media reports that the varicella vaccine is responsible for increased shingles incidence. This is true, but only in one sense. Several studies, including Hardy et al, show that as expected, those vaccinated for chickenpox are less likely to get shingles than those who develop the chickenpox infection. However, as more and more young people are vaccinated for chickenpox, the incidence of chickenpox infection falls in the population. Consequently, adults who had chickenpox as children don’t get a natural “immune boost” from being exposed to chickenpox on a regular basis. This makes shingles more likely in these adults (Edmunds et al). Eventually, as the number of vaccinated individuals overtakes the number of individuals who have had chickenpox, the shingles rate will decline. It is a factual misrepresentation to claim that the chickenpox vaccine increases the risk of shingles.

As to the longevity of the vaccine, any “new” vaccine (and it’s worth saying that a vaccine goes through years — even decades — of testing before it’s ever available to the public) is associated with some uncertainty about how long it will last. Some vaccines appear to confer lifetime immunity; adults don’t need MMR boosters, for instance. Other vaccines confer only a few years of immunity, including the Tdap (for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis), which has to be given every 10 years. Anti-vax rhetoric suggests that since the chickenpox vaccine could wear off in early adulthood, vaccinated children would be at risk for chickenpox infection as adults. This is an erroneous claim, however; the CDC and health organizations worldwide are monitoring the longevity of varicella vaccine-conferred immunity. According to the World Health Organization, studies in Japan indicate that the vaccine is effective for at least 20 years (studies are ongoing), while ongoing studies in the U.S., which started later than the Japanese studies, indicate that the vaccine is still effective after 10 years. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the vaccine’s effectiveness wears off after a number of years; booster vaccinations will be recommended if health organizations deem them necessary to maintain immunity. Note, too, that since the varicella vaccine has been recommended for all children in the U.S. since 1995, surveillance organizations have had 17 years to observe the first group of vaccinated individuals for waning immunity (and, of course, there’s been even more time to observe the test-case individuals for waning immunity). A child vaccinated for varicella today will know years, if not decades, in advance of the need for a booster shot.

After looking at the research, I’m impressed by the effectiveness of the varicella vaccine. A meta-analysis (study of many studies) by Seward et al revealed that a single dose of the varicella vaccine was 84.5% effective at preventing any chickenpox infection, and was 100% effective at preventing severe chickenpox. Since chickenpox infection is severe in 52% of cases in unvaccinated children (Vazquez et al), this is a significant reduction in risk. Current CDC recommendations are for two doses of vaccine, given at least three months apart, which increases the effectiveness of the vaccine to around 90% (AAP).

The other thing that occurs to me is that, given the tremendous prevalence of the varicella vaccine among US children, parents who don’t vaccinate their children put them at risk of NOT catching chickenpox. Yes, you read that right. Of course, they’re at risk of catching chickenpox, because they’re unvaccinated. But even worse would be to NOT catch chickenpox (as a child), and then catch it as an adult (because while chickenpox incidence is falling in the US, the disease has not been eradicated, and will not likely be eradicated any time soon). It’s essentially incumbent upon parents who don’t vaccinate their children to ensure that the child catches a sufficiently serious case of the chickenpox to help prevent susceptibility later in life. However, in ensuring that the child catches the chickenpox, the non-vaccinating parent also puts that child at risk for serious chickenpox-related complications and later shingles, meaning that the risks associated with not vaccinating are particularly complex in the case of varicella!


Science Bottom Line:* The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is less risky than chickenpox infection, making it an essential childhood vaccination. Despite the relative newness of the vaccine, there’s evidence of at least 10 years of protection (studies ongoing). The CDC continues to monitor immunity of vaccinated individuals, and will recommend booster shots for vaccinated individuals if they are determined necessary.


Did you (or will you) vaccinate your child for chickenpox?



American Academy of Physicians. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Infectious Diseases. Varicella vaccine update. Pediatrics. 2000 Jan;105(1 Pt 1):136-41.

Edmunds et al. The Effect of Vaccination on the Epidemiology of Varicella Zoster Virus. J Infect. 2002 May;44(4):211-9.

Preblud et al. Deaths from varicella in infants. Pediatr Infect Dis. 1985 Sep-Oct;4(5):503-7.

Seward et al. Varicella Vaccine Effectiveness in the US Vaccination Program: A Review. J Infect Dis. 2008 Mar 1;197 Suppl 2:S82-9.

Vazquez et al. The Effectiveness of the Varicella Vaccine in Clinical Practice. N Engl J Med. 2001 Mar 29;344(13):955-60.


30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miranda
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 18:33:47

    Hey K,
    Excellent article 🙂 I would add my own (anecdotal, so take for what it’s worth) experience – I had a very mild case of chicken pox as a child, so mild in fact that it did not confer immunity. I discovered this via a blood test early in my pregnancy last year, and now feel like I’m on borrowed time to get the vaccine before my W potentially brings the real thing home from daycare. I do not want adult chicken pox, but I’m having a heck of a time finding a place that’ll give me the vaccine without charging me $200. (And yet, if I were a small child, or over 65, it would be easy as cake.) W will definitely be getting that shot when her time comes. I would much rather she have the shot, with one unhappy day (or two), and be as certain as described above that she’ll be protected, rather than go through a week of being sick, however mild, and have it be for naught. Exposure doesn’t always guarantee immunity. Beyond that, I don’t want to stir the pot. 🙂


    • SquintMom
      Feb 22, 2012 @ 19:12:07

      Thanks for adding your experience. My husband also had a mild case of chickenpox as a child, and we need to get his antibody titer tested to see whether he needs the vaccine at this point.


  2. Jem
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 18:57:20

    Isabel had chicken pox when she was 10 months old. By the time the blisters appeared she was oblivious – no obvious itching or discomfort. If this had been ‘it’ I’d probably be cynical about the vaccination, however, the 2 week nursing strike that preceded the appearance of blisters which was caused by undiagnosed mouth ulcers (apparently one early sign of CP!) was hugely upsetting to both of us and nearly destroyed our breastfeeding relationship. IMO that in itself is worth getting the shot.

    Karl (my other ‘alf) was hit terribly by it a few days after Isabel started displaying symptoms, and then both of my younger brothers too (who had apparently been exposed as kids but never caught it). Seeing these grown men suffer as the blisters appeared EVERYWHERE (use your imagination) was almost embarrassing to watch; it wasn’t pleasant.

    My mum could never remember me having chicken pox as a child and I didn’t catch it at the time… discussed theories of possible “natural immunity”. Looking back some weeks later, I remembered a small circular v. itchy spotty rash on the right side of my tummy (just under my boob) which I’d put down to a reaction to something environmental. In hindsight, and with a bit of Googling behind me, I’d put money on that having been shingles. How guilty do I feel that I was the ’cause’ of all that pain?

    So yeah, you could say I’m pro-vaccination here 🙂 It’s not offered over here (yet?) but would almost certainly take it up for future kids if it were in the future.


    • Jem
      Feb 22, 2012 @ 18:57:49

      Jeez, that turned into a bit of an epic ramble – apologies!


    • SquintMom
      Feb 22, 2012 @ 19:15:03

      Thank you for sharing your story! I know of a little boy who got it many years ago, and as with your story of the grown men, it got EVERYWHERE (including INSIDE his rectum and penis). That’s a lot of misery. His mother told me she had to use heavy doses of Benadryl to essentially dope him up (so he would sleep through the worst of it) for an entire week.


  3. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 22:42:15

    No question we will be getting the varicella vaccine in a couple months for T. I do remember having chickenpox when I was about 9. I took oatmeal baths while on vacation at Disney Land. It was NOT fun.


    • SquintMom
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 02:32:03

      Oh, no! That’s a TERRIBLE chickenpox story! Bummer about Disneyland!

      I thankfully barely remember my experience with the pox, but I do have lovely developing spots on my face in my 3rd birthday pictures!


  4. KKava
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 23:00:14

    Our family was torn only on timing to vaxing for this. I experienced chicken pox as an infant while my husband had not, so his (recent) titer showed no evidence of immunity. As a bedsharing, small-business-owning family with an 18-month old (i.e., toddler with a richer social life than ours), we could not put my husband at risk of catching cp as an adult; otherwise, we might’ve waited a bit longer to vaccinate our son.

    What I found curious was the matter of sequence. Our pediatrician indicated that a vaccinated individual had the potential to pass along the disease in a short window after getting the shot, so they advised my husband get vaccinated first, then our toddler. Since he had a Europe trip coming up, we followed that advice; however, I did not find anything backing up that claim and continue to wonder, especially since our son hypothetically could have passed pox (before presenting any symptoms) at any time to my pre-vaccinated husband. Might’ve been best to vaccinate both at once…

    Anyway, THANK YOU for your article!


    • SquintMom
      Feb 23, 2012 @ 02:31:01

      The risk of passing cp to an unvaccinated individual is very, VERY low (and only relevant if the individual is immunocompromised). A healthy person will not get cp from a recently vaccinated person. So yeah, hindsight is 20/20, but you could have done them both at once!


  5. katie
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 05:41:52

    thanks! we are already planning to do this next for our 12 month old, but were certainly surprised to see it on the list and wanted to understand more about it. living in a foreign country, we couldn’t discuss easily with our doc, so we were just going on faith that it was necessary. your post has helped tremendously.


  6. Jenny F. Scientist, PhD
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 20:11:43

    We did vaccinate Bug (now 3) for varicella, for exactly the reasons you mention above: he was likely to *not* get it otherwise due to the high prevalence of vaccination, and the associated mortality for a vaccine-preventable disease was unacceptable to us.


  7. Shanon
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 05:29:14

    We won’t be vaccinating our almost 2 year old for chicken pox. After reading about the varicella vaccine I believe that the vaccine is far riskier than coming down with chicken pox. The IOM’s report from August 2011 found the following:

    Evidence Convincingly Supports a Causal Relationship

    The committee concludes that the evidence convincingly supports a causal relationship between some vaccines and some adverse events.

    As a live vaccine, the varicella zoster vaccine is linked to four specific adverse events, all due to infection from the vaccine virus strain:

    Disseminated varicella infection (widespread chickenpox rash shortly after vaccination)
    Disseminated varicella infection with subsequent infection resulting in pneumonia, meningitis, or hepatitis in individuals with demonstrated immunodeficiencies
    Vaccine strain viral reactivation (appearance of chickenpox rash months to years after vaccination)
    Vaccine strain viral reactivation with subsequent infection resulting in meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)

    Somehow you (conveniently)left this part out. Meningitis or encephalitis is not a mild reaction like soreness at the injection site. Based on the IOM’s report, the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines added these side effects to the vaccine injury table.

    We will definitely not vaccinate our daughter for MMR either. Measles body inclusion encephalitis is not something I’m willing to take a chance with.


  8. Nancy
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 07:34:53

    Chicken pox arises from the elimination of toxic fat or fatty acids through the hair fat glands. The chemical burn from the purging of waste products though the skin causes the characteristic blister of this disease. This occurs when the liver is congested and cannot perform its eliminative function and metabolic waste matter (toxins) is then thrown into the bloodstream. These toxins in the blood must be discharged, so nature uses vicarious avenues of elimination, or “substitutes”. When these bile poisons (from the liver) in the blood come out through the skin, we get skin conditions manifested by rashes, boils, acne, etc. Or they come out through the mucous membranes (inside skin) manifesting as various catarrhs, like chicken pox. Thus, the skin is “substituting” for the liver, or a vicarious elimination is occurring through the skin.

    Chicken Pox Doesn’t Kill; doctors Kill

    It’s now plain to see why the children described in the afore-referenced MMWR had died. They were given numerous antibiotics, steroids, antipyretic and antipruritic medications and other fever suppressers, some administered directly into their bloodstreams. Probably they were given food to eat as well, even during the height of their inflammatory responses. The CDC admits that children don’t die from chicken pox per se, but rather “complications” from chicken pox. But what they don’t say is that these complications are all derived from acute blood toxemia established by the very treatments used by allopathic physicians. So strictly speaking, all children that die, do so from the allopathic medical treatments that are used to treat the symptoms that accompany chicken pox. There has never been a recorded death among the many thousands of children treated Hygienically, and without drugs.

    What does the CDC list as the most common complication? Pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections (caused by the antibiotics). Other complications, according to the CDC, include encephalitis (inflamed brain tissue mostly from the antipyretics), hemorrhagic complications (such as intestinal bleeding, are the most common symptoms of aspirin—an anticoagulant, or “blood thinner”), hepatitis (congested and inflamed liver caused by the antipyretics), arthritis (decalcification of bone for the calcium needed to neutralize acidic blood, mostly caused by the aspirin), and Reye’s syndrome (most commonly associated with giving aspirin to children that have chicken pox or influenza).

    Like aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen (ie. Tylenol) will also burden the liver and kidneys and check the vital actions of the body to discharge waste from the blood. Acetaminophen poisoning is also common because it throws the chemistry of the liver off. In fact, it is the most common drug-induced cause of liver failure. It depletes hepatic glutathione, causing the toxic metabolite NAPQI to fail to conjugate, which leads to hepatic injury, and sometimes death.

    Chickenpox- Why do Children Die?


    • Laney
      Mar 26, 2012 @ 08:12:25

      Many of us enjoy Harry Potter and other magic/fantasy movies as escapist entertainment. Clearly, you view them as continuing education.


  9. Nancy
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 07:38:52


    Measles is an old Sanskrit word meaning ‘visitation by a Goddess’, because the disease was followed by a dramatic improvement in health of the child or by a developmental milestone. Medical studies today still show that infection with measles can cure asthma and even recover seizure disorders like epilepsy

    How serious are all these childhood illnesses?


  10. Alyx
    May 20, 2012 @ 12:08:22

    Thank you Nancy. Very refreshing to read something intelligent and well researched.


  11. Alyx
    May 20, 2012 @ 12:34:27

    Squint mom, just wondering where you got the 52% of chicken pox cases are severe? I’ve researched and have not come up with a statistic even close to that. I’m also supposing me, my siblings, 2 of my children, other fam. members and everyone else I’ve known who’ve had it are the smaller 48% that didn’t get severe chicken pox? I see you have sources but which one did you get that from? I’m not anti-vaccine but this vaccine is not as wonderful as you are portraying. It doesn’t take a genious to find credible info about ppl having adverse reactions to the vaccine including infants getting shingles from it, which is far worse. I do believe adults that are not immune to chicken pox could benefit from the vaccine. I’ve had 2 children that despite everyone around supposedly being vaccinated now, mysteriously have contradicted the disease. I have another child that had the vaccine. I’m more concerned for her as she will need to get tested as an adult to make sure she’s still immune. Hope she doesn’t contract it before then.


    • SquintMom
      May 21, 2012 @ 08:31:31

      The reference for the 52% number is the Vazquez et al paper in the references (for all my articles, names in parentheses that follow statements are the authors of the papers from which that statement was taken, and full references are listed below the article). Note, too, that “severe” does not mean “life-threatening.” Severe chicken pox is chicken pox that covers a large percent of the body and/or lasts longer than usual. Infants can NOT get shingles from the chicken pox vaccine. You say you don’t believe that adults who are not immune can benefit from the vaccine; where are you getting that? You say that it doesn’t take a genius (I assume that’s the word you meant?) to find credible information about people having adverse reactions. True; there are mild adverse reactions that have been documented, as I address in the article. However, can you provide a reference (non-anecdotal) for any severe or serious adverse reactions? There are no such sources I’ve found, and I looked thoroughly. “Everyone” is not vaccinated for chicken pox, so it’s not a great mystery that your children caught the virus; there are enclaves in which it’s more common. As far as your vaccinated child, so far, the vaccine appears to provide at least 20 years of immunity and counting. Because the first waves of immunized kids were in the 90s, you’ll have plenty of warning if the vaccine requires a booster shot in adulthood. On that note, I don’t know why everyone finds such fault with the notion that the varicella virus *might* (this has not yet been determined) require a booster in adulthood; the TDaP requires a booster, and no one seems to site that as evidence that it’s somehow faulty.


  12. Courtney
    May 22, 2012 @ 13:09:17

    I promise I am not anti-vax. I had a tdap and hepA vaccine both this year.

    I believe there is under reporting of vaccine related adverse events to the CDC. I had my first and last influenza vaccine a few years ago. I had severe anaphylaxis (requiring a lot of drugs and a night under observation in the hospital) immediately following vaccination. I have no egg allergy.

    I went to the employee health office (at a big name fancy hospital) where I’d received the shot and asked about reporting. Employee health told me to contact the ED so they could report the adverse event since the ED treated me. The ED told me to tell my family doctor. My family doctor told me that whoever administered the shot should report it. Ultimately, my non-egg related anaphylaxis was never reported. How many other people have adverse events that do not get reported? I do have doubts about how accurate statistics kept an adverse are.

    I will also say in retrospect (20/20) I felt duped into getting this vaccine. I am young-ish, healthy-ish, and had no direct patient contact/care in my job at Big Fancy Hospital. I do not feel I was at risk of dying from influenza because I was young, healthy, and would have sought medical care had I contracted influenza. I also do not believe I would have been a risk to patients – I did not care for them directly, and had the ability to stay home if sick. I got the vaccine because of the 10 billion emails I got from Big Fancy Hospital about how rad and awesome it was to get a flu shot. So instead of risking being sick and miserable for a week or two, I had a really traumatic experience. And I am sort of bitter (if you couldn’t tell).

    Although I am bitter, I do believe vaccination is ultimately a good thing. Hence the HepA vaccine for exotic travel and the tdap out of love of my tiny nephews who do not need whooping cough.


    • SquintMom
      May 22, 2012 @ 13:29:14

      You say you believe there is under-reporting; on what basis do you believe this? Your anaphylaxis was an exceedingly rare reaction, but it appears there was some failure to report, which is not good. However, this is mitigated by the vast OVER-REPORTING of “adverse events” that are unrelated to the vaccine. People put all sorts of things in the database and claim they’re shot-related, and they remain in the database regardless. One individual even reported (to make a point) that the flu shot turned him into the Hulk. It remained in the database (NO JOKE!) until he voluntarily pulled the report on the grounds that his point was made.

      As far as you needing the shot, this was probably an issue that was handed down from your hospital administration, and I don’t really blame them for having this across-the-board policy. In a society as litigious as ours, if a patient found out the hospital did NOT require all employees to be vaccinated (and that patient contracted influenza), there would be a lawsuit there.

      In any case, sorry to hear you had a bad reaction; you’re actually the only person I’ve ever heard of reacting anaphylactically to the flu shot in more than a decade of science writing! I’ve had anaphylaxis myself (nut allergy), and it’s no fun.


  13. Lisa
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 18:51:42

    I have not decided how I feel about the varicella vaccine and will be doing more research before deciding to vaccinate my own child in the future (I’m currently pregnant with my first).

    The adverse effects listed by Shanon above, are all associated with infection of the actual virus and so on that basis I don’t believe the vaccine to be unsafe. I do think that the recommendation to vaccinate all children was not a sound public health decision and here is why…

    The majority of us had chicken pox as children and we were told having a non-mild case conferred life immunity. This was true in the past for most but now comes with a caveat. Life immunity was conferred because we continued to come in contact with the virus every so often in our everyday lives (such as kids with CP or elders with shingles outbreaks) and were given a sort of natural environmental “booster” if you will. We had enough immunity to prevent the normal infection, but the exposure gave our immune system a little refresher course to remind it that the antibodies to the virus continued to be needed.

    Blanket vaccination of children for CP and vaccination of elders against shingles has reduced our environmental exposure. Adults who believe they are immune because they had chicken pox as a child may no longer be. Unfortunately, most wouldn’t know unless a. They contracted it or b. they were titered.

    When I began working as a registered nurse I had a series of titers provided by my employer that showed I was no longer immune. Adults in this circumstance should receive the vaccine. I have worked with patients who had viral meningitis from varicella and, believe me, you do not want it.

    Back to kids. If I could go back in time and change how things were done, I would recommend that blanket CP vaccinations not be done, but have a recommendation that kids who have not have the infection by age X be vaccinated as well as adults who had not contracted it (as mypersonal opinion–I am not a medical doctor or researcher). I think as research continues we will find that it will require boosters throughout adulthood, and I am concerned for adults that believe themselves immune, from having the illness in childhood, not taking precautions from exposure to the children who were vaccinated but contract a mild case or those with shingles.

    That was much longer than intended 😛


  14. July
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 18:31:45

    What do you think about the practice of delaying the vaccine until the child’s had the opportunity to be exposed to chicken pox? For instance, waiting to vax until they are 10 if they haven’t contracted the chicken pox by that time? Any negatives?


    • SquintMom
      Sep 07, 2013 @ 18:36:52

      The negatives on that would be that the child risks contracting chicken pox, which while less serious in young children than teens and older adults, still has significantly higher risk of serious consequences than the vaccine itself. In the ultimate risk-to-benefit analysis, the vaccine is safer, at ANY age, than contracting chicken pox, and there is no truth to the notion that “natural” immunity is better than vaccine-derived immunity; your body can’t tell where the virus came from!


  15. Carrie
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 09:12:07

    You wrote in bold that giving the vaccine to children will prevent them from getting shingles later in life…not true…the cdc states clearly that anyone who has had the chickenpox vaccine can develop shingles. You should not make misrepresentations such as this and emphasize it to boot.


    • Kirstin
      Sep 25, 2014 @ 12:41:15

      Giving the vaccine does NOT give a child the chickenpox virus; it prevents it. As such, it also prevents shingles. The CDC is quite clear on this point, and you are incorrect in your assumptions to the contrary. It is a complete misconception to suppose that getting a vaccine results in getting the disease. Rather, vaccines teach the immune system to fight a pathogen by exposing them to weakened, partial, or killed pathogen. The very normal immune response after vaccination – mild aches, fever, etc – is due to the immune system activating and functioning the way it should; it’s NOT an indication that a person is ill or has gotten the virus in question. The entire anti-vax community is predicated upon misconceptions and blatant mistruths.


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