Most people throughout their lives have experienced chickenpox before. In many countries around the world, chickenpox, or the varicella-zoster virus, is almost a rite of passage; something that most people as children will experience, and then ultimately forget about. Parents hold “chickenpox parties,” and try to expose their children as young as possible, which begs the question why?
According to Dr. Ellie Cannon, “It seems strange to willingly let your child develop an illness, but chickenpox is usually milder in children than adults, when the risk of serious complications is higher. Most of us will have chickenpox at some stage, so it makes sense to get it over with. For girls, it is better to have it as a child as then there is no chance of getting it while pregnant.”
Now that is all fine and good, and if you have gotten chicken pox out of the way, you have nothing to worry about, right? Sadly, that’s not true.
While it is incredibly rare to catch chickenpox twice, the fact remains that after your first initial outbreak of the illness, the virus lays dormant inside of you. For many, it will remain there for the rest of their lives, and none will be the wiser. However, in some instances, this ‘sleeping virus’ can become reactivated, be it from stress, disease, aging or a weakening immune system. The result is shingles.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the shingle’s vaccine, also known as Zostavax. It is the only vaccine in the United States that reduces the risk of reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus; however, many older residents don’t seem too interested in getting the vaccine.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the shingle’s vaccine to everyone over the age of 60. But as often is the case with subsets in our culture, they can often form a group conscious that guides their decisions that might not be completely based on fact.
While there are those who have either experienced shingles first hand, or have known someone who has, and believes it is their social responsibility to take the vaccine. While others had concerns about the vaccine’s efficacy and wondered whether or not it was appropriate for people who had already had shingles or had never had chickenpox. They worried that getting the vaccine meant that they could potentially infect others.
It is not just the shingle’s vaccine, but vaccines in general that often have the public opinion split. If you, or a loved one is considering, or not considering getting a recommended vaccine, the best advice is to speak to your health-care professional and to remember that there is nothing wrong with a second opinion.Advertisement