Before the chickenpox vaccine came about in 1995, parents would often have “chickenpox parties” in an attempt to infect their child with the seemingly unavoidable virus and get it over with.
The trend fizzled off once the rate of children infected went down thanks to the vaccine’s effectiveness.
But now, the parties are back in full force thanks to the anti-vaccination movement, according to USA Today.
Parents will organize for their child to hang out with an infected child in close proximity, sometimes by putting them in a tent together.
The idea is for the child to get infected and build immunity, but one doctor is now speaking out against the practice.
Dr. Elizabeth Murray told People that you can’t predict how sick your child will get at a “pox party.” She said:
“There is no way to know if your child will get a mild case of chickenpox, flu, measles or any other vaccine-preventable disease. So why take the risk?”
The doctor emphasized the child will, not only suffer, but expose others to illness:
“At best, even if they do get a milder version, they’ll be home sick for days, which means suffering that could’ve been prevented plus missed work for parents and risk of exposure to those who can’t handle the germs so well.”
Dr. Murray added that “vaccines are a victim of their own success.” She told People:
“When we didn’t have a chickenpox vaccine, parents would often decide to try to ‘get it over with,’ thinking that teens and adults often had a worse time with the illness. However, the person who has the best time with the illness is the one who never gets it.”
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) affirms that the chickenpox vaccine is safer than chickenpox itself and urges parents to vaccinate their children once at 12 to 15 months and again at age four to six.
The virus can be deadly to more vulnerable groups like babies and pregnant women, according to CDC.
Last week, the World Health Organization named the anti-vaccination movement as one of the top 10 threats to global health this year.