Shouldn’t You Vaccinate Your Kids for Chicken Pox?

Boy with chickenpoxThere’s a weird phobia in this country against vaccines. About 11 percent of parents skip or delay recommended vaccinations for their kids.

Now, I’ve held both my screaming daughters while they got multiple shots recommended by our pediatricians, including annual flu shots. And I hate it each and every time. But it irritates me even more to know that one or two of the kids in their daycare classes are likely to not have gotten the proper vaccinations, putting my vaccinated children at increased risk of contracting the illness.

That brings me to chicken pox; a relatively innocuous illness by all appearances, right?

A study by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, puts a different spin in simple chicken pox. Using hospital discharge data, the researchers found that the single-dose varicella vaccine has prevented about 50,000 hospitalizations for the illness between 2000 and 2006.

Two things struck me from that study published in the journal Pediatrics this month. First, that chicken pox can hit so hard that it can land a kid or even an adult in the hospital. In fact, about 42 people per million landed in the hospital in the pre-vaccination era.

Second, that from 2000 through 2006 there were still 24,488 patients hospitalized in this country for chicken pox.

I realize no vaccine guarantees that someone won’t contract a disease, but we need to do a better job of vaccinating our kids to bring down the ongoing rate of people getting sick enough from the chicken pox that they need to be admitted to a hospital (about 12 per million).

Did you know that in addition to chicken pox (the varicella virus), there are 15 diseases that have recommended vaccination schedules? Here’s the complete list of diseases for which immunizations are recommended by the CDC.

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