On Wednesday, October 30th, an anti-vaxxer mother and nurse from Australia posted to Facebook that she was reportedly handing out chicken pox-infected candies for Halloween. Her intent was to “help others with natural immunity,” according to her post in a “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” Facebook group (see screenshot). The post was brought to light when a conversely pro-vaccine group by the name of “Light for Riley” exposed it.
The supposed “nurse” that made the Facebook post intended to spread the disease through infecting the candy, as her son had recently come down with chicken pox. Not only has this called into question the reliability of a supposed “nurse,” but this has been controversial regarding the anti-vaccination/pro-vaccination debate, as well as how safe this method of exposure is for children.
According to INSIDER news, they were unable to verify the credentials of the nurse in question, or whether or not she actually passed out these candies to unknowing children. Despite this, though, the initial thought of such an action has sparked conversation about just how effective “natural immunity” is for boosting immune systems, and the results were in favor of pro-vaccinators.
The term “chicken pox parties,” circulated earlier this year when Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, exposed his nine unvaccinated children to chicken pox, “so that they would become immune.” Parents of a similar mindset did the same, all for the purpose of having their children “get it over with.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though, this is far from a safe practice. “There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be.” The CDC warns against this behavior, even with good intentions, thus, “it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child,” as it may result in “severe complications.”
In addition to the threats that accompany contracting chicken pox voluntarily, there is also evidence to prove that this method does not boost immunity. Pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert told INSIDER news that it is “’incorrect that getting the natural disease is going to make your immunity stronger so you don’t need a vaccine, which is a much safer option. People don’t realize that the reason we made vaccines is because they can’t kill kids.’”
If an unvaccinated child is exposed, though, to someone with chicken pox, the effects are wildly unpredictable, as stated. These effects may very well include such a result as severe as death, whereas vaccines are closely controlled and ensure this danger is absolutely avoided. Thus, medical professionals suggest that the severe consequences children may face should be deterrents from willingly exposing children to the disease.
While this incident occurred in Australia, the issue still poses important questions to be considered amidst the anti/pro-vaccination debate. Should it be illegal to expose unvaccinated children to a disease they ultimately may not be able to combat? Should the state continue to mandate vaccinations? And, what may be the most important question, is there a right or wrong answer to this debate?