Chicken Pox Vax

Updated on November 05, 2008
A.M. asks from Saint Paul, MN
17 answers

Hi all,
Just looking for some opinions: my little one is due for his chicken pox vaccination at his next check-up. Why do they now give that vaccine? I'm 33 and never had it. My brothers and I all had chicken pox, and it didn't really seem like that big of a deal. Now, my MD is telling us that our little guy should get it--just wondering how many of you got it? I do know that once you've had chicken pox, you're more susceptible to shingles. I'm a believer in vaccinations, but I have spaced them out. It just seems like our little ones are getting so MANY more shots than we ever got. Just looking for some more advice/info b/f I make the decision whether to go ahead with the shot or not. Thanks!

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H.T.

answers from Minneapolis on

I put off the Chicken Pox Vax until my daughter needed it for kindergarten. I also spaced out her Vax to one per visit and three months inbetween Vaxs and delayed the MMR until she was 4.
I am hoping the Chicken Pox Vax lasts her whole life and that she doesn't get the illness as an adult when it is a much worse illness.

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B.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I just asked my peid at the last appointment. He said that because viruses evolve and develope more severe strains of diseases and sicknesses chicken pox is becoming more dangerous. The strain of chicken pox that kids are getting these days can leave larger and more crater-like scarring. The vaccine doesn't make them immune but it does make an outbreak much more mild. They get a vaccine at 12 months and then they get the booster when they go to Kindergarten. My peid said that shot should make them immune for life. He said that they are trying to wean chicken pox out like they have the measles, mumps, rhubella.

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J.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

My kids got the chick pox vaccination when they turned 1. I don't think it is a big deal and plus I think they are required to get it before they enter kindergarden.

Chicken pox can be more serious as an adult. My mom recently got shingles and has been dealing with it for over 1 month and has been in a lot of pain. I also just got something from my doctor saying that the vacination has reduced the amount of kids getting it by 90%. The article also quoted a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths. I wasn't even aware you could die from chicken pox but apparently you can. I would get it and not worry so much.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, most of us had it as kids and did OK. I was lucky enough to have it when I was six weeks old, and my brothers were 1 and 2. My younger sister, however, did not get chicken pox until she was 17 and she missed a MONTH of school and was miserably sick the whole time.

There are some serious complications that can and do happen from chicken pox. I, too, wish that there were more longterm studies about the effectiveness and length of effectiveness of this vaccine, however. There does seem to be some evidence that the effectiveness might not last through adulthood.

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S.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

A.,
It sounds like you have lots of advise already, I am not telling you to or not to get it, however like some of the other stories my daughter got the vaccine and then around 6 years old got the pox!!! It was not mild though!
I am also contemplating weather to have my son that is coming up on his 18 month shots the end of Nov th vaccine. I was shocked when she got them the 1st poc (sp?) was HUGE!! We called it the mother poc and she had them everywhere!! Even in her mouth and throat. It was a nightmare. Anyway that was my experience.

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N.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

My 18 month old has all of his shots except the Chicken Pox. The only reason they could give me for needing it was that if he didn't get Chicken Pox when he was young he could get Shingles when he is older and it would hurt bad. I have decided to hold off on the vaccine until he goes to school, they get soo many vaccines that since this one won't really affect him until he is older it will wait until then.

Good Luck with your decision

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C.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

Let me start by saying what you already know....you'll get all kinds of advice/opinions here, but ultimately it's a personal decision you and your husband will need to make.

We chose not to give the CP vaccine to our kids (now 2 and 3). Instead we intentionally exposed them to other kids who had the chicken pox while they where both young (there's a yahoo group specifically for this). As a result they both had chicken pox last winter. While I know there's always a chance of someone getting really sick from them, I figured both my husband and I had survived the chicken pox and so would our kids....and they did. Having them "sick" with the chicken pox wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated.

Also, from what I've researched, having the disease provides much better life-long immunity than the vaccine does.

Good luck with your decision.

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K.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

A.,

My kids get all their shots. I guess I have no problem getting them. I know some people don't believe in shots, but I don't see why not...

My 5yr old just got his Chicken Pox booster and my 11yr did too. My 11yr old was "grandfathered in" when they only needed 1 shot. Now they are seeing a small outbreak in middle school kids so they are giving boosters.

I guess its all a matter of opinion...

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D.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

I thought this web link provided a good answer to your question: http://www.healthcaresouth.com/pages/askthedoctor/chicken...

Basically vaccinated children who do get chicken pox get a milder version of it...while it seems like a harmless disease it can be potentially serious.

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K.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

My guys got the chicken pox vaccine several years ago, back when they only did one dose. They both still got chicken pox, but it was incredibly mild and painless. Their little friends got it from them, and without the vaccine, the two girls had an absolutely miserable time of it.

So to me, it was worth it right there.

Plus, my brother-in-law got shingles and it was AWFUL.

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K.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi A.,

I used to think it was the weirdest thing to give a Chicken Pox vaccine since all of us had the real thing as kids. I think the vaccine was developed in the '90's so anyone older didn't get it. Then I took a microbiology course and realized that there were some good reasons for the vaccine.

The chicken pox virus lives in the spinal column for the rest of your life. While it's not extremely common, the shingles that you can develop from this virus can be very serious and can cause nerve damage or other problems if you become immunosuppressed or anything occurs that would allow the latent virus to proliferate. After learning about the virus, I'm glad my kids will be able to get the vaccine.

If you're interested in reading more about it, here is some great info from the CDC.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/default.htm

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L.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

The CDC link I have included may answer many of you questions. I Have highlighted some of the reasons for getting the vacine below.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/dis-faqs-ge...

It is not possible to predict who will have a mild case of chickenpox and who will have a serious or even deadly case of disease.

If your child gets mild case: usually miss 5 or 6 days of school or childcare due to their chickenpox and have symptoms such as high fever, severe itching, an uncomfortable rash, and dehydration or headache.

1 in 10 unvaccinated children who get chickenpox will have a complication serious enough to visit a health-care provider. Serious complications include bacterial infections which can involve the skin, tissues under the skin, bone, lungs (pneumonia), joints, and blood. Other serious complications include viral pneumonia, bleeding problems, and infection of the brain (encephalitis).

If a vaccinated child gets chickenpox the illness is typically mild, producing no symptoms at all other than a few red bumps.

Many of the deaths and complications from chickenpox occur in previously healthy children and adults. Before a vaccine was available approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year. Since the vaccine, most of the healthy adults who died from chickenpox contracted the disease from their unvaccinated children.

Sorry for the lengthy psot,but it's good and accurate information taken right from the CDC. CDC also has info about exposure parties. I didn't read that info, but you should be able to do a search on their website.

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D.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

My 2 1/2 year old daughter did have the chicken pox vacination and got atypical chickenpox this past spring. Even though a child gets the vacination, they can still get a milder case of the chicken pox. I'm very glad I got her the vacination because the atypical chicken pox outbreak didn't bother her.
I am now pregnant and at my midwife appointment last month, she told me the chicken pox were going around. She said that they can be very serious for children to get and not something to fool around with.

When I was little and got the chicken pox, I only had two of them. I had one on the tip of my nose and one in my belly button. Once you have the virus, it lies dormant in your body for life. It can get activated and break out in various forms. Shingles and herpes simplex(cold sores) are all versions of the same virus. As a child, I would break out with cold sores and I got the shingles when I was 14.

I have a friend who also got the chicken pox as an adult and was very ill. She said that she had them for 2 weeks and wouldn't wish that experience on anyone.

It is ultimately your decision. I just wanted to give you some food for thought.

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J.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hello- I have a 2 year old who has not gotten the varicella vaccine yet. He is up to date on all others..I talked to our pediatrician about this during his 2 year check and he said he likes the kids to get at least one shot but not necessarliy the booster (problem is, schools may be requiring the booster). This allow them to catch a mild case of the chicken pox which is better immunity. It's tough when the vaccine is new to the point there is not any good long term data. We are still considering it, but are not in a hurry as we spread the shots out as well and thought the flu shot was a little more pressing this time:)

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A.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi A.,
I haven't read all the other responses, so I apologize if I repeat! I was really concerned about this vax too, and all the other ones they get right around the same time. My doctor is a bit of a naturalist like me, and discussed all the pros and cons with me. The thing is, a LOT of kids are getting this vaccination, so the number of kids who will actually get the chicken pox (kids you could expose your son to) is dwindling. I wish they had done a little more long term research into this vaccination, but I think our kids are the research. Looks like they are going to need a booster shot when they enter adolescence (especially the girls), and maybe another booster later to ward off shingles. Hopefully, the boosters are the only annoyance with this vax. Either way, vaccinations have a very important place in our health - we don't often think of that, because we don't often come down with things like diphtheria and tuberculosis. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor, and you'll know what to do.
Best of luck,
A. K

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R.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

I'll probably get a bunch of heat for this, but we are not giving our kids the Chik Pox Vac. From what I have researched, it appears as though the vaccination is causing kids to get at older ages, thus increasing its veracity and seriousness. I guess I would prefer that my kids get it early and have a life-long natural immunity to it. And for everyone out there who is planning on attacking my decision, please don't. This is a sensitive topic and every parent should be encouraged to conduct their own research and make the best, informed decision they can based on the information that is available. This is your decision A.- do what you think is best for your little one. Good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I asked the same questions. I am a firm believer in vaccines but hestitated over chicken pox. Why create a vaccine for something non-fatal? But, as my pediatrician explained...Because so many kids were getting the chicken pox vaccine, by not giving it to my child meant he would have limited opportunity for exposure in childhood. Getting chicken pox in childhood is a breeze...But as an adult it can have serious complications. So we did go ahead and get the vaccine. Guess what? When he turned 5 he got it any way as did 1/2 dozen other kids at his pre-school. Our clinic didn't believe it. It is only in the last couple years that they are finding out the vaccine isn't as effective as they thought.

If you opt not to get the vaccine - Find a circle of friends, family, acquaintances who are also not getting it for their children. Then hope at least one kid DOES get it and hold a chicken pox exposure party for all the kids.

BTW - Schools can't require vaccinations. But they do require you to sign off on the vacine form that your are a "conscientious objector" so to speak for religious, etc. reasons.

Next question: Shingles Without Having Chickenpox...is That Possible W/ an 11 Year Old?