Some people who don't believe in vaccinations are intentionally exposing their children to the chickenpox, and they're using Facebook to find those infected. When they do they get together for what they call 'pox parties.' This is a deeper look at pox parties and the risks involved for Texoma families who may be considering it.
There are a number of groups for, against and created to debate pox parties.
The purpose of one of the invitation-only groups called 'Chicken Pox Party,' as stated on the page, "is to communicate germs, not information, support or prevention, just germs." They want to know if your child gets chickenpox so people in your area can "come over and play" in hopes of naturally infecting their own kids and chances are, it will happen.
"If 10 kids are in a room, nine of them are going to get it," Dr. Daunne Peters said.
Some kids aren't as susceptible, which leads to a more heated debate. Many people are upset because some pox-party parents are telling others to have their kids wrestle around with infected children, scratch the poxed kids' spots, swap T-shirts, skip showers, share the same bathwater and even share sippy cups and lollipops.
Wichita Falls mom Elizabeth Phillips was shocked to hear this, "I, personally, would not do that. Now, whether other people would do it, hopefully they've done their own research," she said.
Phillips has three boys. All of them are vaccinated against the chickenpox.
"I think it is very important to thwart any disease process that might happen, especially at school or somewhere else," she said. "You don't know how your children are going to react to a disease process."
We also spoke with Daphne Wakefield who was at Dr. Peter's office with her granddaughter. She has also been vaccinated against chickenpox. Daphne wishes the shot was around when she was a kid.
"I don't understand why you'd want your child to be exposed to something that would hurt them and cause physical damage," Wakefield said. "As a child, when I had it, it caused scars because kids itch, and then scratch, and then end up with permanent scars on their face and other parts of their body. I wouldn't want my child to endure that if there's something to protect them."
Dr. Peters agrees. She said vaccines are a must, but for those against them, decreasing exposure is the best option. She said there are many risks that could follow intentional infection.
"They're going to get the illness, and if you're one of those children that gets the illness bad and you end up with meningitis, pneumonia, death or loss of limb, I can't imagine," Dr. Peters said.
She said chickenpox can be much more aggressive these days than the virus we remember as kids.
"Viruses change overtime and they get more and more virulent, meaning more deathful," Dr. Peters said. "Then we see more deaths and serious complications."
Over the years, chickenpox became more than just a threat to adults.
"The immunization was developed in the first place because we started having quite a few deaths in kids from chickenpox," she said. "Meningitis, life threatening/limb threatening infections in these lesions."
Even if your kid would only get a mild version of the itchy rash, Dr. Peters said, "Why risk it when you could potentially prevent it altogether?"
"They're out of school for 2-3 weeks. You're out of work for 2-3 weeks because they can't go to daycare. Financially that's a huge burden, medically it's a huge burden and then you're risking the life of your child," she said.
She does understand, however, parents get the ultimate say.
"My job is to educate them. This is why we developed vaccine. This is why I want to give your child these vaccines. These are the complications of this illness, what could happen, this is what we've seen," she said. "This is why it's federally and state mandated. I give them the whole thing, not just the medical side but the financial side and legal side as to why we do it," Dr. Peters said. "Then, it's still they're decision."
With most kids vaccinated against the Varicella virus, parents who are looking to fight infection naturally are being forced to reach outside their communities, sometimes states, to find children with the chickenpox. That's why so many are turning to the world wide web.
Even with the Varicella vaccine, children can still get the chickenpox, but Dr. Peters said it is a much milder version and there are rarely complications.
We asked Dr. Peters about her recommended treatment for chickenpox symptoms. To see the raw interview click here.
You can also find more information about chickenpox at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's website by clicking here.