• Sun, Oct 13 - 2:34 pm ET

However ‘Harmless’ You Think It Is, The Chickenpox Should Be Vaccinated Against

shutterstock_94529320__1381689205_142.196.156.251When I was reading about vaccinations before my first child was due to have his, one complaint kept resurfacing in forums. It was always about the varicella or chickenpox vaccine. It seems that there are many people who think chickenpox is a harmless disease and we shouldn’t even bother vaccinating against it. My question was always, why not?

I never got the chickenpox as a child. I ended up with it when I was 20-years-old. Not fun. But I remember my doctor at the time saying at least I probably wouldn’t scar because I was able to control myself as an adult, and not scratch the pox to the point that the skin would break and leave a mark. He was sort of right – I only have about three scars. But I remember thinking, no wonder so many of my friends’ bodies were littered with scars. Those damn things itched so bad.

Having gone through it as an adult, I can confidently say it’s not something I want my kids to experience. The fever, the general body aches and the unbearable itching – if I could stop it from happening to my kids, why wouldn’t I? Now, there is a second dose of the vaccine that will make it even less likely for my children to catch. From Health Day News:

After the introduction of the second dose of chickenpox vaccine, the rates of chickenpox infection dropped 76 percent and 67 percent at two U.S. sites tracked for the study on opposite sides of the country.

Rates of infection in adults and infants — two groups who generally don’t receive the vaccine — also went down, suggesting that higher levels of immunity in the population are decreasing the amount of circulating chickenpox.

I’ve heard many make the “but people live through it all the time” argument in regards to other diseases we vaccinate against as well. I always hated that argument. Why turn your back on science when it is helping to make your child healthier?

Although many people tended to think of chickenpox as a relatively mild infection, it caused more than 10,000 hospitalizations each year and about 100 deaths annually, according to background information in the study.

“I think the data is pretty clear that the second dose is having a dramatic effect,” said Dr. Thomas Murray, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn.

“The second dose in the varicella vaccine program is very effective in reducing varicella in the general population,” he said.

The CDC recommends children under 13 years get the first dose of the chickenpox vaccine between the ages of 12 months and 15 months, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years. People 13 and over who have never had the chickenpox or the vaccine should get two doses 28 days apart.

(photo: Vadym Zaitsev/ Shutterstock)

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  • Guest

    I have never gotten the chicken pox. My fertility clinic had me get vaccinated because getting it when you’re pregnant can lead to retardation in the fetus. They checked me antibodies, and guess what?: the vaccination didn’t work! It was expensive for the adult dose and hurt like a bitch because it was partially frozen. So, I’m at risk for mega-gnarly adult chicken pox. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people don’t vaccinate their kids so that both they and I won’t have to suffer. Gah!

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I wonder if the second dose is something that will help you? You should ask your doctor.

  • Muggle

    I didn’t get the vaccine because when I was a kid, it was pretty new and my parents didn’t trust it for some reason.

    Yeah, getting chicken pox SUCKED. I don’t give a flying fuck how many sanctimommies tell me it will give them autism/ADHD/Tourettes, I’m vaccinating the shit out of my hypothetical future kids (and giving the sanctimommies a proper dressing-down for implying that ADHD and Tourettes (which I have) and autism (which I don’t) are HORRIBLE DEADLY DISEASES comparable to, say, just about anything that has a vaccine to prevent it).

    • Zoe Lansing

      Yeah,I have ADHD (which I’m 99.9999999999% sure was not caused by vaccines anyway ) and it’s a pain to live with at times but I’m sure it’s preferable to,say,polio.

    • Cliff

      As the parent of an autistic kid slightly resent the implication here that it’s not a horrible condition. ( Not deady I’ll give you.) Its not comparable to a deadly virus for many reasons, but if there were a vaccine connection ( which there isn’t) I’d take an acute , even serious, illness over a lifetime of disability any day.

    • Muggle

      Autism is a spectrum of disorders, and many autistic people can live perfectly normal lives, not much differently from someone with ADHD. Does it suck? I don’t doubt it. It seems like it sucks more than ADHD and Tourettes. But I’d still rather have an autistic kid than a dead one. Chicken pox is the most minor of all the diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, yes, but can still lead to shingles later on. I just resent the implication that it’s better to be dead or seriously ill than have a mild condition like ADHD.

    • Cliff

      I do understand what you’re saying. Forgive my glibness, Today was shit throwing day and a head banging day and a biting/screaming day. I was thinking ” If only I could trade this for measles I totally would.”

    • Justme

      Except when measles travels to your child’s brain, rendering them completely helpless with the mental capacity of an infant. And then lives in this stage of fragile adult infancy for twenty three years before passing away at the age of twenty-eight, right? Except for THAT kind of measles. Your child is alive. Be grateful.

    • Cliff

      Thanks for the condescention. I assume you don’t have a severely autistic child. What you described is pretty close to what I’m dealing with. Don’t tell me to be grateful on a day like today buddy.

    • Justme

      Your child is alive. Measles can and does kill children. Don’t wish for measles when my mother would gladly have an alive autistic sibling over her dead sister.

    • Cliff

      I’m not singing the praises of Measles! I’m well aware of the risks of Measles. I’m saying that whenever someone touts the nonexistant link between vaccines and autism I think ” If only it were that simple, if only I could trade it for 2 week in bed on fruit juice. ” ( Measles for me was an almost painless affair and your poor aunts case was an exceptionally bad case I think you’ll agree. ) And whenever someone tells me to be ‘grateful’ for my severely disabled child I want to tear my fucking hair out.

      Are you always this self rightious?

    • Justme

      When it comes to vaccines, yes, I am. In your first two posts, you implied that measles was an “acute (even serious) disease” over a “lifetime disability.” I am just pointing out that many of those diseases that vaccines protect our children against cause lifetime disabilities and death.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Dude, Cliff clearly stated in one of his earlier comments that he doesn’t believe there is a link between vaccines and autism. No one is defending measles. I had an exceptionally bad case when I was a child and am still dealing with the ramifications today, so I know where you’re coming from.

    • Justme

      Fuck you.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Seriously? I write a perfectly rational comment and you say “fuck you?” Okay, whatever you say psycho. I bet you’re a real peach at parties. Not that anyone in their right mind would invite you to one. I think you need a douchebag vaccine.

    • Justme

      What does my response to you (or anything in this entire thread) have to do with being invited or enjoyed at parties? You’re stretching for that one.

      And for many people (many on this website, in fact) “fuck you” is considered a perfectly rational response as well.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      There was nothing in the comment that you replied to that warranted a “fuck you” though. I straight out said that I see exactly where you’re coming from on the issue, and that I just didn’t think anyone was trying to downplay the measles. Obviously you just have an issue with ME. All of your comments are extremely negative and you play it fast and loose with semantics. And yes i took a moment to look through some of your comments. You sound like a pompous, self-righteous asshole. Fuck you right back.

      I’m sure you’re going to reply with some boring dribble but I won’t bother reading it. If there was a blocking option on Disqus I would gladly and enthusiastically use it.

    • Justme

      Wah, wah, wah. You’re just butt hurt over the fact that someone isn’t blowing smoke up your ass, telling you how fucking wonderful everything you write is.

    • Blueathena623

      I hope tomorrow is better for you and your family. While we both agree that there is no linkage between vaccines and autism, it is good to be reminded that autism can be a very serious condition.

    • Mamanj

      Wow you sound like a jerk. I’m fully on the getting vaccinated train but no reason to make light of autism. Autism is very serious. Consider yourself lucky enough to have a child who does not have autism that you need to provide round the clock care for. I applaud all caregivers who have a child with autism at any level. While I’m sure they are grateful to have a child who is alive it still must be very difficult to handle.

    • Muggle

      I wasn’t trying to make light of autism. I understand that it can be very serious and debilitating. However, other “reasons” for not vaccinating include the fear of ADHD and, for some bizarre reason, Tourette Syndrome. Those suck, but not that much.

    • Shelly Lloyd

      As a parent of an autistic child, I rather my child live a long healthy life and be autistic rather than have a short life, cut down early in his youth by a serious illness like polio. I wish I could take you to my family’s cemetery–it has been in my family for 150 years now–and walk you down the rows and rows of children who died, most by age 4, by the very same diseases that we vaccinate against now.

    • Blueathena623

      I am a huge pro-vaccine advocate, as I believe all my comments on other vaccine-related posts show. The poster Cliff states that he knows there is no connection, although I’m not sure if his child is vaccinated. I do not know where your child is on the spectrum, so I’m not trying to talk over you, but I can see how a parent with a severely disabled child might wish that his child would not be severely disabled, even at the risk of death or other disability. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to care for a child who cant communicate, may be prone to self-injury, may be violent, etc. I know that having a severely disabled child strains marriages and other family connections, that it is hugely expensive, and parents worry about what will happen to their child after they die, especially with the decreasing numbers of facilities that can handle severely disabled adults. And of course there is always the issue of what defines health. Is it just lack of disease or does it also include a sense of well-being, and if its the second, how difficult is it to tell if a severely autistic person feels a sense of well-being? That’s not a rhetorical question — I really don’t know how often severely autistic people exhibit behaviour that could be interpreted as happiness.
      Anyways, this is all tangential since everyone involved agrees that there is no linkage between vaccines and autism, but I can understand why a parent wishes he could/did have the ability to take the risk if it would mean not having a severely autistic child.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I think the point was that vaccines have nothing to do with autism. I don’t think anyone would actually downplay how difficult that is.

    • Blueathena623

      I do think that sometimes pro-vax people (and I am including myself. Hell, I’m basing this off myself) tend to think of autism mostly in terms Aspergers. But I think its important to remember how incredibly difficult autism can be.
      I dunno, I know it may seem like I’m switching sides or something, and I’m not, but this whole conversation has been weighing on me and making me think I need to remember to have some compassion when dealing with autism/vaccine convos.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      One of my good friend’s son is severely autistic. He is 16 and can’t speak or communicate almost at all. He will always need to be supervised and cared for, and that scares the hell out of my friend. They actually recently found major differences between autism and aspergers, so much so that they don’t think aspergers is even on the spectrum any longer (which I know a lot of people aren’t aware of yet, so I’m not judging anyone for not knowing it) and I would venture to say that most autistic children have very different symptoms. If there was any legitimate link between vaccines and autism I would take the situation very seriously, because I know how terrible autism can be. I have the utmost respect for people dealing with autism, but vaccines don’t cause it.

      http://www.livescience.com/38630-autism-asperger-eeg-connectivity.html

    • Blueathena623

      We all know that there is no link between autism and vaccines. This comment thread has become a weird thing because we are all speaking in hypotheticals about something that we all know is not true.
      At the end of the day, I just feel like it was good for me to get a reminder about how bad autism can be, so I can deal with parents who fear it more compassionately. They are still wrong, but instead of mentally writing them off as someone stupid who is willing to risk polio to avoid Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory or whatever that show is, it helps me to remember that there are people like your friend and I should be more gentle.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Oh, I totally know how you feel. I think being compassionate is always an admirable goal. I wish more people were like that in the world.

  • Zoe Lansing

    Having chicken pox also leaves one susceptible to shingles as an adult which are apparently very painful.They are also be potentially fatal.My dad’s friend died at 40 from shingles.

    • Cliff

      Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought shingles wasn’t contagious but could give you chickenpox if you weren’t immune?

      I’ve also had it. Not fun.

    • AugustW

      It’s essentially the same virus (herpes zoster) reactivated in your body at a later time. I’m guessing that if you were vaccinated and never actually had the virus, you won’t get reactivated and have shingles after.

    • Diana

      I dont know if its common of if I’m a special case but I had the vaccine a few years ago and had shingles since then. I never had Chicken pox though.

    • G.S.

      I have a friend who’s had shingles when she was somewhere between a kid and a young teenager. It was so bad, she felt like she was on fire, and it burnt off her nerve endings and now she can’t feel pain. Burns, cuts, holds? Nothing.

      But even with potentially gaining super powers as a side effect, I’d rather not have my future kids go through that kind of pain to get them.

  • keelhaulrose

    People survived polio, too, but I don’t hear many people willing to take that risk.

  • Momma425

    I am a nurse and work at a community health clinic. I have heard ALL the excuses about why not to vaccinate children for various patients. Religion, fear of autism, etc… BY FAR, I feel the most idiotic and irresponsible reason parents use not to vaccinate is, “no, he/she doesn’t like to get poked.”
    Yeah. You remember that when your child is in the hospital, sick at home for weeks, has potential scars, has an incurable sti that can lead to cancer, and possibly dies. At least they didn’t have to endure the 2 second pain and horror of getting poked with a needle.

    • Blueathena623

      Don’t like being poked. Ha. I grew up on a military base overseas, and for some reason we always had to get TB tests before we were allowed to travel to the states. Sometimes we visited my grandparents 3, sometimes 4 times a year. I know I was a kid, but it always seemed like the needle was in there for FOREVER as they injected the fluid for the test.

    • Tara

      What?! People actually use that as a reason? Are they seriously not aware that NO kids like to be poked? I shouldn’t be shocked that there are people that stupid out there, but come on. No kids like getting shots. Good grief.

    • Momma425

      Oh yeah.
      I’ve had parents YELL at me for “being mean” because their baby cried when doing a PKU or mandatory hemoglobin/lead testing at well child checks. Some parents refuse them outright because their kid “just doesn’t like needles.”
      I don’t like needles either- but I like to know my daughter doesn’t have anemia, and won’t get polio. *eyeroll*
      I feel badly for the children of anti-vax parents, that might end up getting really sick. But MORE THAN ANYTHING, I feel badly for parents of children who are too young to get vaccinated.

  • Ann B.

    My husband and I were talking about this the other day. He was saying he didn’t remember chicken pox being bad when he got them. I thought they were awful. I wanted to die. I didn’t have a terrible reaction, but I remember hating the itch and even being in the oatmeal bath and thinking how it didn’t help.

  • Blooming_Babies

    I fought it with my oldest because it was new and my pediatrician looked right at me and said “I wouldn’t let my kid be a guinea pig” but he got it a couple of years later.

    • Pappy

      You need to get a better pediatrician. This guy is obviously a victim of the Woo.

  • Cee

    Ive never gotten the pox. When I was a kid, my mom even had me hang out with my cousins when they got them and I never got them. But I will be damned if I get them as an adult!
    My beautiful, BEAUTIFUL looks will be compromised and well yea, my health, my uncle had chicken pox as an adult and it was scary. I don’t want that to happen to me, people! Vaccinate for your kids and for others.

  • AugustW

    I don’t seem to be able to develop an immunity to chicken pox. I had it three times as a child, and even though I had the vaccine when I was 18, I’ve had it twice again as an adult.
    I’m sure shingles will be a hell of a thing when I get older.

    The bottom line is this: vaccines are 50% for YOUR kid, and 50% for OTHER PEOPLE. So many people can’t get vaccinated (babies, chemo patients, etc) and we have a social obligation to protect those people.

    • Diana

      Thinking the vaccine might not work for you either then? Antibodies are antibodies/

    • kcanuck

      Umm, she said she had the vaccine. Has had the disease twice since vaccination. Some people don’t develop effective protection against some diseases. Hence the need for vaccines for the rest.

    • Lala

      I have a similar thing with hepatitis B. got the vaccine but shows up in my blood work not to be significant enough (although fairly close). My doctor recommended not getting the vaccine again since in some people certain vaccines don’t stick and I most likely do have at least some level of immunity to it.

    • JAN

      It took me five shots of the Hep B vaccine to produce antibodies. I had to keep trying b/c I’m a healthcare professional and it’s required for my workplace…plus I’m afraid of transmission in case I were to get a needle stick. It’s definitely a hassle though.

    • AugustW

      Yeah, I need other people to vaccinate or I’ll just keep getting it. I was terrified of being in public when I was pregñant.

    • moonie27

      Not every immune system has the right antibodies present. Most do (and you have lots and lots and lots, so the odds are in your favor) but not all people can develop immunities just because they were exposed to a virus.

      A corollary is that there is a small percentage of people who develop immunity to HIV and thus cannot be successfully infected – but most people don’t develop an immunity.

  • kay

    I had chicken pox as a baby. So I don’t remember, but my mom says it was the worst case my doctor had seen, and the only reason I didn’t get hospitalized was because they were worried about other children with compromised immune systems due to chemo who were also in the hospital. She said it was awful, and I can only imagine how much a tiny itchy sick person sucks to care for.

    My baby is getting her shots.

  • 4under4mom

    My only issue with this particular vaccine (yes my kids have gotten it), is that lately it seems like the medical community has concerns about your childhood vaccination losing their effectiveness as you age. Like the pertussis vaccine and studies have shown that chicken pox is a more severe/dangerous illness for adults than it is in childhood. I hope they do long term studies to test this vaccine as it is still pretty new.

    • koolchicken

      This is my issue as well. My husband got pertussis because his vaccine wore off and he didn’t know it- and he’s an ER doctor! For people in the ER is there’s a vaccine or booster they’re supposed to get it and work pays for it. I was lucky, mine was still effective (had a lot of fun teasing him for robbing the cradle on that one). But I don’t want my kid getting chicken pox as a 22 year old in college. These companies need to know how their product works before they tell us it’s wonderful and push it on us.

      They also gloss over the fact that in Japan they’re seeing an increase in Shingles. The vaccine has been around long enough there that adults that got chicken pox as a kid and never got a “natural booster” by being around kids with the disease are suffering this newfound “side effect”. So until we can completely eradicate chicken pox we’ll be dealing with mass shingles outbreaks in adults who aren’t spending time with sick kids.

  • RevBex

    I got the chicken pox when I was 10 and I did not itch at all -no, I burned. I got blisters all over my body – inside my throat, on my scalp, on the soles of my feet; and a 104 temperature. There was no scratching just a lot of (mortifying for me) crying for days on end. It felt like being on fire – I slept naked in the bathtub b/c the tile was cooler than sheets. Then the blisters burst and it was disgusting. I vaccinated as soon as we could, especially for my preemie. Even if it is a “mild” illness, I would definitely want to skip it for my kids’ sake.

  • CrazyLogic

    I didn’t get the vaccine as a kid because my doctor told her not to. It was very new when I was getting my shots, and I think I was the first year it was starting to be done regularly outside of special cases and my doctor hadn’t fully implemented it into his vaccination schedule unless the kid had a history of violent illness or a relative with an immune disorder.

    I remember him suggesting it later when I was older though, so he did come around. I had had it that year, so I wasn’t vaccinated but my mother said she would have if she could have, but it would probably be useless for me to get it.

  • C.J.

    I don’t think chicken pox is harmless at all. My godson had a stroke caused from the chicken pox.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    Chicken pox has been going around in my circle of friends. Friend A got her son vaccinated for it, and he was in that small percentage that wound up having it. Friend A also had it as a child, but an extremely mild case, and wound up catching it from her son. She sent a couple of pictures of her blisters…ouch. Friend B thinks her 8 month old son might have caught it, too. The worst part? When Friend B mentioned it on facebook, she had a friend, C. who started begging her to have a couple of playdates. C’s youngest hadn’t had chicken pox yet, and she wanted her child to catch it and have it. I bit my tongue so hard, it almost bled. That’s the trend I can’t get over…people intentionally infecting their kids. Yes, waiting until being an adult to have it is horrible, but don’t force it on your kid!

  • Snarktopus

    I got the vaccine in my teens. My brother had the chicken pox, but I never caught it. Which, come to think of it, is really bizzarre, cuz I catch everything….

  • Evelyn

    Here in the UK we don’t vaccinate against vaccine except for kids who really need it.http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/chickenpox-vaccine-questions-answers.aspx

    No idea where I stand on this one as chicken pox has never been one of the automatic vaccines here so I have never thought about it. I had chicken pox as a kid as did all of my kids. It’s harmless for kids but apparently much nastier for adults. I have two friends whose kids have had transplants at far too young to catch it (one liver one kidney) and another whose daughter will need a heart transplant. They get something that is supposed to boost their resistance to it when the pox does the rounds at the local schools and so far have been fine.

  • Renee J

    When I was a child, a friend almost died from the chicken pox. He was in the hospital for weeks. The vaccine came out years afterwards.

  • koolchicken

    This I the only vaccine I’m on the fence about. Not because I’m stupid and I think it’ll give my kid autism or something like that. But because they’re not really sure just how long this particular vaccine protects for- something this article leaves out. It used to be one vaccine, now there’s a booster, will my kid need another, and another, and another? The people who are making this vaccine have openly said it works for some people and not for others. It wears off in some people and not in others, and there’s no common number of years for how long it remains effective.

    If I’m afraid of anything it’s getting my kid the vaccine, giving him the booster, then having it wear off and having him get chicken pox as a teen or young adult when it’s more like to be serious. It’s generally a mild disease in young kids, most of the serious complications are in older people. So I may just try and find my kid a pox party when he’s old enough, I want a guarantee he’ll be protected as an adult, not a loose promise.

    • Sri

      Again, it’s not a guarantee. A number of us have had the pox a bunch of times. Luckily, I haven’t been exposed as an adult, but I don’t have any antibodies for it. My immune system is pretty kick ass, too, except for the pox.

      Say you take him to a pox party. Usually, the illness is more mild in children, but not always. Scarring is common and mild, but some children have strokes or develop lesions on their lungs and brains. On top of that, he might be like me and not actually develop any immunity after that. Is that really better and less risky than getting the vaccine, getting his immunity tested, and then getting booster shots?

      If your insurance doesn’t cover the tests to see if he’s developed antibodies, I understand a little bit more. I still don’t like it, but my aggravation goes more towards the insurance company, at that point. It’s a known issue with chicken pox in general and the varivax vaccine, so I feel like the test should be included.

    • koolchicken

      I totally agree with you. My own aunt is one of the people who keeps getting chicken pox. I’ve had the HepB vaccine three times and I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure I’m still not immune. Also I can’t even get some because I’m allergic to latex. So herd immunity is important, I rely on it myself and I’m not as lucky- my immune system isn’t the best.

      I think my argument in favor of pox parties is based on the fact that only a small number of young children will get very ill. Quite frankly that can happen with the vaccine as well. So it sort of feels like six of one, half a dozen of another. Also if I take my kid to a party I can limit the spread of the disease to others. I rarely leave the house so it’s no issue for me- I’m not going to be sneaking out. It’s just not that hard to stock the house with what I need then stay there for the next two weeks. If my son caught it on the fly then it might be an issue for others but I’m hoping to avoid that.

      My husband is a doctor and even he’s not sold on this particular one. We hope to discuss options at our next well visit. Our doc is very pro vaccine (which we like) so I know he’ll help us make the right choice. I don’t care about the cost of antibody testing, I’m happy to do it. But I think we need to put more pressure on the vaccine company to give us real answers as to how well this vaccine works. It’s not asking too much. And if they said you have to do testing, boosters, etc then insurance companies would have to cover it. But since they’re dropping the ball (so far as I’m concerned) patients are being left to eat extra costs or worse- go unprotected and not know it. You can’t just create a drug and say “Please pay us to take this new miracle product, but we don’t actually know how to use it. Good luck!”

  • CW

    The problem with the varicella vaccine is that it is derived from a cell line that came from an aborted baby. I will only have my kids receive an abortion-tainted vaccine if it is for a very serious disease (like Rubella, which can kill unborn babies). Chicken Pox is not serious enough for me to be ok with using an abortion-tainted vaccine.

    • Surfaces

      Uh chicken pox can kill unborn babies too.

    • Simone

      Abortion-tainted.

      Uh-huh…

    • whiteroses

      There are a few problems with that.

      If you have an issue with vaccines that are derived from cells, then I take it you’ve never heard of the HeLa cell line.

      I did a quick Google search (which is in no way a substitute for years and years of vaccine research, I hasten to point out) and could not find anything to support your assertion besides some nutty pro-life websites.

    • Sri

      I can’t believe that I’m going to defend CW, but Merck did develop the Varivax vaccine using cell lines developed from two aborted fetuses. What I have seen conflicting information on is why the fetuses were aborted in the first place. Some reports say that one of the mothers had major psychiatric issues that caused her to need to abort, others say that the mother simply had too many kids, most sources contain no information. I’m actually kind of happy that they were able to develop the cell lines, whatever the circumstances of the mothers were. It’s not like the mothers would have chosen not to abort, we just wouldn’t have a bunch of vaccines. Anyway, WI-38 has been cultured since 1962, and MRC-5 since 1966, so It’s not like they’re aborting fetuses every time they need to develop a new vaccine. Also, both abortions were performed legally (for the Roe v Wade hawks in the audience, they were done in Europe). At this point, the cells have divided countless times. They’re not a carving of fetal lung, they’re a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy (this could go on a while) of some cells taken from a fetal lung.

      I actually have a much much bigger problem with HeLa research. Researchers basically stole her cells after she died and her family believed that she was still alive somewhere being experimented on. That is why we have INFORMED consent laws, now, but I’m not going to start a history of American medical ethics lesson.

      As one of those people with abnormal immunity to chicken pox, it’s very important to me that people vaccinate, though. I find it kind of disgusting that people value fetuses aborted more than 40 years ago more than the wanted babies of mothers that don’t develop normal immunity to the virus. My baby might be born with rudimentary digits, abnormally formed limbs, brain deformities and other problems if I get chicken pox during pregnancy. How is that more acceptable than using a vaccine developed on the cells grown using the lung cells of a fetus aborted in the 60′s?

    • whiteroses

      I agree with you.

      Personally- my feelings on abortion notwithstanding- those babies that were aborted in Sweden (having done some more research) would probably have been aborted anyway. Keeping that in mind- those babies have saved an incredible amount of lives.

      I have issues with HeLa research too (Rebecca Skloot’s book was excellent) but she’s also saved a countless amount of lives. Not to mention all the babies that wouldn’t exist without in vitro fertilization, which her cell line is pretty much directly responsible for. It sucks that her cells were taken without her consent. And, at the very least, her children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren should get lifelong health insurance free of any charge at the very least, imho.

      Vaccination is SO important, regardless of how the vaccines happen. Arguing that vaccines shouldn’t be used because of how they came into the world makes me wonder how people square history. Should we not have freedom because we’ve had to fight and sometimes kill to defend it? Should we not drive cars because Henry Ford was an anti-Semite? We could split hairs until the cows come home, but there’s no point in that.

    • Sri

      I totally agree with your points on HeLa research. I just find that situation much more problematic than the WI-38 or MRC-5 lines. If the account about maternal psych issues is true, I might have an issue with that one, too, depending on the issues and how they may interfere with informed consent (both to donation of tissues and the abortion).

      At this point, though, the damage is done. Throwing out the IVF research (and modern polio vaccine, which used HeLa for some research) doesn’t undo what the family went through. Not using the vaccines developed from WI-38 and MRC-5 doesn’t mean that those fetuses weren’t aborted.

    • whiteroses

      True. But one way or the other, some good has come out of it all. Most of us owe our lives to HeLa cells, imho. Doesn’t erase the awful that was done by any means.

      And honestly, I agree with you. The damage is done. The only thing we can really do is mitigate further pain and hurt.

  • pontificatrix

    The problem with the varicella vax is that the immunity wears off after 10-20 years, and then you are susceptible to infection as an adult which is much worse, and potentially life-threatening.

    Immunity acquired through childhood exposure to varicella is lifelong, and the illness itself is usually very very mild in young children.

    • Surfaces

      I had it three times in childhood and once in adulthood, as have a few other posters here. I think that debunks acquired immunity in childhood being lifelong.

    • moonie27

      I had it ..oh, I think about 7 times as a child. My mom caught a mild case of it every time any of her kids did. I’ve never caught it since but I’ve been very careful to stay away from it as well.

    • AP

      I’m glad to see some fellow chickenpox freaks! I had it three times, also. I thought it was just me.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    At first I didn’t get the concept behind the chicken pox vaccine because in my life I only ever saw it as an annoying illness you got over and was immune from, like a rite of passage.

    Then I learned it could get really serious, and in rare cases it can be fatal. Then I considered the financial costs to households where a parent needs to take time off to care for children with chicken pox.

    I’ll be vaccinating my son against it. There just seems to be no compelling reason to disallow the vaccine.