A pox party is a get-together by parents or caregivers to infect the children in their custody with the varicella virus, better known as chickenpox. Children are asked to send around items that have been in their mouths and to trade pajamas in an attempt to contract the disease to build their immunity to it later in life when chickenpox can be deadly. This is usually done because parents or caregivers believe that the vaccine for varicella is unsafe, although this practice of organizing pox parties is not recommended by most medical professionals. Although many believe that contracting chickenpox as a child is safe, it can have serious side effects both at the time of infection and later in life.
When a child becomes naturally ill with chickenpox, a pox party is arranged by the parent or caregiver for the child and activities are scheduled to pass around the disease. Healthy children are brought with the sick child in a closed environment, with the intention of the healthy children to catch the virus from children with chickenpox. Children can pass around the same candy sucker, eat ice cream with the same spoon, or play with the same flute. As chickenpox is highly contagious, especially through saliva, the sick child will usually pass on the varicella virus to the other children. Another common activity at a pox party is sharing pajamas: the wounds that accompany chickenpox are also contagious, and therefore a healthy child wearing the sick child’s pajamas after him or her can also contract the disease.
The primary purpose of a pox party is for children to get the disease at a young age for the body to build up a natural immunity without getting the vaccine. Parents and caregivers usually choose to hold a pox party rather than give their child the standard vaccine because they believe the vaccine is either not safe, ineffective, or both. Despite this, the vast majority of medical professionals disagree. The varicella vaccine is considered to be one of the safest available, with very limited side effects, and it is estimated to protect 85% of children from chickenpox and shingles without having to go through the fire test of fighting the virus itself as of 2005.
In addition to overlooking the vaccine, chickenpox is also often seen as a minor illness, which is usually why parents and caregivers believe it’s safe to hold a pox party. While many children do it safely through chickenpox, this is not true for everyone. Pneumonia is a relatively common complication, and pox marks can become infected, leading to other health problems. In addition to this, the varicella virus can cause an infection of the brain, which can lead to lasting damage or death. By choosing the pox party over vaccination, children are also put at risk for shingles in adulthood, which can be incredibly painful and brings their own list of complications.
- It is better for children to get chickenpox at a young age so that they can become immune to it, which is why parents can organize a pox party.
- A girl with chickenpox.
- Children with chickenpox will develop flu-like symptoms a few days before you get chickenpox blisters.
- Parents expose their children to a child with chickenpox during a pox party.
- Chickenpox vaccinations.
- Children who suffer from chickenpox are more likely to develop shingles in adulthood.