- Update – one of the twins caught chickenpox before I could book the appointment. So, so spotty and really itchy. Not fun 🙁
My twins are five and have not yet had chickenpox despite being exposed to it on a number of occasions.
Their big sister had it when she was 18 months old. She wasn’t particularly ill with it just very spotty and rather uncomfortable. However, I know that different children are affected in different ways and there can be complications. I know a few horror stories.
Other countries vaccinate against chickenpox
We don’t routinely vaccinate against chickenpox (varicella) in this country. I thought that was because it’s usually a ‘mild’ illness. However, further reading has suggested that with all the debate relating to the MMR jab, authorities are reluctant to add another vaccination into the immunisation schedule for children. I learnt from my Italian dad that they immunise against it in Italy. It’s also offered in a number of other European countries as well as Japan, Australia and Canada (approximately 33 countries in total), and the vaccine has been routinely administered to children in the US since 1995.
Why I’m considering the chickenpox vaccination
It might not be a really dangerous disease in most cases, but it is pretty unpleasant. I distinctly remember having it when I was seven. I caught it off my best friend. She hardly had any spots but was really poorly. I was fine but was absolutely covered. The itching sent me practically insane, so much so my mum had to buy me painting by numbers to try and keep me from scratching. That and the infamous calamine lotion! That discomfort can all be avoided with a vaccination. I was also a bit of a swot so I was seriously fed up about having to have two weeks off school.
That leads me on to the other reason I’m considering it. Chickenpox is contagious for quite a long time so if my twins got it, they would have to be off school for quite a while (allowed back only when the last spot/blister scabs over). No doubt they wouldn’t catch it at exactly the same time so that’s potentially a lot of time off of work for me. That’s something that would be very tricky to manage.
• My twins caught chickenpox 16 days apart. It was extremely difficult to manage with work as one literally was able to go back to school just as the other broke out in spots. Also the first twin to get it seemed to be recovered (ie the spots seemed to have all scabbed over), went back to school for a couple of days and then was really unwell. We had to take her to A&E as she was hot, lethargic and unresponsive. Three of the spots had become infected and she had to have antibiotics.
NHS on chickenpox
BBC on why we don’t immunise in the UK
Guardian on the real reason we don’t immunise in the UK