Mom Who Won’t Vaccinate is Mad the School Is Sending Her Child Home

Readers: hafehnzfhz
This is just a little snippet from modern day society — a local listserve note sent to us by a reader. The writer is a mom who didn’t want to give her daughter the chicken pox vaccine. The school is saying the girl needs to leave school for 20 days because another kid got chicken pox and so she’s not safe. 

“My daughter just started kindergarten at public school last month.  They accepted our religious exemption without an issue, and everything was going so perfectly.  Then this morning I received a call from her school to notify us that a kid has chicken pox.  Definitely not in her class, and possibly not even in her grade… 

So now she has to stay home for 20 days.  If anyone else gets chickenpox, then the 20 day countdown begins all over again.  I don’t even know what to tell her as the reason she can’t go to school.  I don’t know what to tell her friends and their parents who will notice she’s not in school.  I don’t even know how to handle the fact that her whole routine has now been turned upside down. 

I never intended to home school, but now it feels like I’m being forced to do so.  I wish I at least knew of any other kids in her grade that are also being isolated, so we can at least get together with them during this time.  Just feeling really alone and frustrated.  My husband is of course supportive, but can’t offer much advice…Any thoughts or pearls of wisdom to share??”

My pearls: I believe in vaccination. I also don’t think chicken pox is that dangerous — maybe because when I was growing up, there wasn’t a vaccine yet and most of us came down with it. So at the very least, I guess I’d insist that the mom agree not to sue if her child gets chicken pox. (And I’m sorry I’m even thinking in lawsuit terms. Such are the times!) Anyway, there are some interesting issues here — how much does a parent owe the community, and how much autonomy does the community owe the parent? I’m drinking my espresso and await your thoughts! – L.

A needling issue.

A needling issue.

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313 Responses to Mom Who Won’t Vaccinate is Mad the School Is Sending Her Child Home

  1. Miriam October 16, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Vaccinations should be a personal choice. Of course, along with that choice is the knowledge that your child MIGHT have the disease. However, with the exception of polio and small pox, most of the time nothing permanently adverse happens, and the bonus is: you are immune for life! Vaccinations do not confer immunity for life. Never. When I grew up the only vaccination anyone got was small pox, which I recommend, especially if you travel abroad much. Polio vaccinations were not available yet, and we all feared that disease. Every one of my friends and I had all other childhood diseases. So we missed school for a week or two. Teachers dealt with it (they had all had the diseases also). Life went on. No one died. We are all immune to every child hood disease for life. So regarding today’s post, if most children are vaccinated, why hold an unvaccinated child out?? And, who are the children getting the disease? Vaccinated ones? Or how many children are unvaccinated? If all unvaccinated children are being told to stay home, who are the children getting the disease(s)??

  2. Crystal October 16, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Can’t the school give the mom a form to sign saying something like, “I understand my daughter may get chicken pox and I do not hold the school responsible”?

  3. Tim October 16, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Tell you child that you are an idiot. Tell her that although there are not usually severe or long lasting side effects from chicken pox, it can be painful and she will have a much greater chance of getting shingles later in life (which can have more serious side effects) but that’s OK with you. Because hey, you have your beliefs.

  4. Tim October 16, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Tell you child that although there are not usually severe or long lasting side effects from chicken pox, it can be painful and she will have a much greater chance of getting shingles later in life (which can have much more serious side effects) but that’s OK with you. Because hey, you have your beliefs. And that trumps common sense.

  5. K2 October 16, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Crystal –
    The authorities think nothing remotely bad should ever happen to a child. That is considered neglect on the part of both the school and the parents.


    I got my kids their vaccinations, but if I were doing it all over again I think I would choose to homeschool. The schools get involved in the medical stuff too much and try to make the decisions for us or make it difficult for us to choose something besides what they want. We’re only allowed to keep 1 set of epipens in the nurse’s office and if she isn’t there when it is needed too bad for us. A friend has a child that was on a high dosage of ADD medication. His heart rate was going up too much from it. This boy was in a mainstream class and was doing well academically. The school said that if the Mom had the dosage reduced or took the boy off of the medication he would have to go into a special ed class. They would have been willing to risk his life and force him to choose between education and life. That mother now homeschools. Of course, the social workers and guidance counselors haven’t been to medical school either. I’ve also heard of cases where ADD meds were refused by the parent when the school officials wanted them and CPS was called and the parents were accused of medical neglect and lost custody of their children. It might also be noted that many of the ADD meds currently being used are were not tested and approved for children. Heart attacks are a very real risk associated with some of these medications. I don’t think the people at the school are qualified to get involved in these controversial medical areas and certainly don’t think the medications should be forced.

  6. Coasterfreak October 16, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Yes, the child should be allowed to go to school if that’s what the parent wants. Make her sign something that says she won’t hold the school liable and have it notarized.

    I’m not really compelled to feel sorry for the writer, though, because she’s made a personal choice about whether or not her children will be vaccinated, and choices come with consequences. I don’t necessarily agree with the consequence she’s facing, but that doesn’t make me feel sorry for her.

    The middle paragraph sounds very whiny. She doesn’t know what to tell people when they notice her kid is not in school? How about, “I have chosen not to have her vaccinated and chickenpox is going around her school, so I have been asked to keep her home for now.” There. Now was that so hard? Is she ashamed to tell people, or does she fear the disapproval she will probably encounter when she does? Again, choices have consequences. Deal with it.

    Or she could state that it’s a “personal reason”. She’s under no obligation to tell anybody anything.

    So what I see here is someone who has made a personal choice based on religious beliefs, but is playing the victim now that her choice has had an undesirable consequence.

  7. NicoleK October 16, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    This is really silly… parents who don’t vaccinate for minor diseases like chicken pox EXPECT the kids to get it and become immune when they are young.

  8. Another Tim October 16, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Also came to comment that you should tell her that you are an idiot. But maybe a better answer is to tell her that she is home because of a selfish and irrational choice that you made, please don’t blame the school for a policy that protects healthy students. If she is old enough, maybe she use the time away from school to do a little research about vaccination and talk some sense into you.

    By the way, vaccines are not always effective, so an unvaccinated child is a risk to a vaccinated child.

  9. Lola October 16, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Chickenpox vaccine (at least the one prescribed in Spain) does not in any way prevent falling ill with chickenpox. It will, however, drastically reduce the probability of a subsequent encephalitis, as well as other life-threatening complications.
    In my country, our public health system provides vaccines for those illnesses that a board of experts consider necessary for the general population. Recently, the chickenpox has been considered not-so-dangerous, so the vaccine is no longer available. Only if the child is prone to said complications, or for whatever reasons the pediatrician considers sufficient, then the vaccine will be prescribed (meaning charged on the public health budget) for a certain child.
    Of my six children, five of them have had the vaccine, and four of them have nonetheless caught it. One of them, actually, also had an extremely light case of the shingles later on.
    So I totally understand the arguments both against and in favour of vaccines. Sometimes they’re necessary, sometimes not. The thing is, you normally find out they were necessary when it’s too late to do something about it.

  10. Rob Ferguson October 16, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Ignoring the potential lawsuit issue (which I’m not in a position to comment on), the public health concern is “herd immunity”.

    While the child in question may be old enough that chicken pox isn’t a serious health issue for them, there *are* children in the community who are too young to get vaccinated or who have compromised immune systems. *Those* children rely on the vast majority of people being immunized against things like chicken pox or rubella to reduce the likelyhood that they themselves may be exposed to a potentially life threatening illness.

    The parent in question has chosen not to allow her child to be immunized. The consequence of this is that her child is a potential vector for the infection to spread to more vulnerable children.

    To prevent this, the school/public health authorities may be choosing to ensure that the kids who are known to be potential vectors for a larger spread of the disease are not being exposed, and so are proactively isolating them.

    There are social consequences to refusing immunizations.

  11. ChicagoDad October 16, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    The school is doing the right thing by asking her to keep her daughter out of school. Chicken pox used to be a common childhood disease, but it also caused a lot of hospitalizations with severe complications in a relatively small but significant number of cases. Vaccinated children can still come down with a milder (and contagious) case of chicken pox. Many children at the school may have family that is at higher risk of complications from chicken pox, such as infants, elderly relatives, people with some sort of immune-suppression like chemo-treatment, AIDS, transplant recipients, etc. Schools are already germ warefare laboratories, as any parent of a preschooler knows. I appreciate a school’s efforts to keep diseases from spreading.

    I don’t want to have to drive my infant to the emergency room at 2 in the morning because a child at my kids’ school was an incubator for a serious disease. Just not cool.

  12. Alaina October 16, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Religious or not, by not vaccinating her child she’s compromising everyone’s herd immunity, and the school is protecting those people as much as her child.

    There are people with compromised immune systems, people too old or too young for a vaccine, and people for whom the vaccine didn’t stick; keeping anyone sick away from them is plain common sense. An unvaccinated child is a danger to all of them, due to the ease with which they can carry diseases. The school is protecting them as much as her child.

    And yes, the chicken pox only happens once in your life. Which is why I became a fluke and got it in first grade and fourth grade (The first time when my sister got it, the second time when 3/4 of my class had it).

    Whatever the reasons, an unvaccinated child is a public health risk for epidemics. They’re doing their job to all the children at the school by not letting that child come in.

  13. kate October 16, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Tell your daughter and friends your beliefs. You don’t see chicken pox as a life threatening illness and you have chosen not to vaccinate. Let your daughter know that the school is keeping her home because there could be kids in the school that are dealing with serious illnesses that could become very sick if they caught chicken pox.
    Please reconsider this issue when your daughter becomes an adolescent. Chicken pox are much more serious as an adult. This vaccine also prevents the much worse complications of shingles later in life.

  14. Powers October 16, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    This is not a free-range issue. There is nothing free-range about exposing your child to a dangerous (if frequently non-fatal) contagion.

    In 100 years, when shingles is largely a thing of the past, people will wonder why anyone refused to have their children vaccinated.

  15. Buffy October 16, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I guess I don’t understand the drama over chicken pox. My kids are in their 20’s now, but during their childhood most parents wanted their kids to get the chicken pox and “get it over with”. Some parents even took their kids to play with a kid who had it, for the same reason! I guess we were all negligent and neglectful….???

  16. Anna October 16, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    She knows the rules. The rules are if you’re not vaccinated, you have to stay home 20 days after an infection is in the school. Don’t like it? Get vaccinated.

  17. E October 16, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    I know we don’t like blanket rules, but I would imagine schools don’t want to pick and choose what specific lac of immunizations and communicable illnesses they’ll allow in schools. I imagine the health department feels the same way.

  18. Lee October 16, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    She should tell her child she’s anti-science, anti-public health, and anti-healthy kid. She should tell her child that she’s smarter than all the scientists, doctors, and public health officials. She should tell her child that all those children that didn’t get polio, small pox, et-al should have contracted those diseases. She should tell her child that she’s OK with her coming down with some easily preventable disease.

    Not vaccinating one’s child is not free-range. It’s ignorance.

  19. CrazyCatLady October 16, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I have friends who don’t vaccinate, and I think that they would feel that this is the price to pay for not vaccinating. You sign the exemption form, you have to agree to the whole thing, including the sending home of your child if another child gets one of the diseases. At our school, we have immune compromised children with rare diseases or getting cancer treatment. Not to mention the little friend with the egg allergy and an epipen who was not able to get her shots until age 8. Yup, she also would have to stay home if someone else got the pox, whooping cough, measles or such.

    When my much younger siblings and I were in school, from kinder to about 3rd grade, about 1/4 of the class would be out of school for two weeks each year while the chicken pox went through the school. When my daughter was in kinder and 1st grade, one child, a 8 month old sibling of a child got chicken pox. For schools that are rightly or wrongly focused on school attendance and the majority achieving high academic standards, those shots mean that kids are in school and learning.

    I suggest that this woman find a chicken pox party for her child to attend – again what people I know who don’t get the shot do. Once she has had it documented that she has had it (and when she calls the doctor to get it documented she should be prepared to go in the back door to avoid other patients,) she will no longer have to keep her daughter home. At least for this particular disease.

  20. Melissa October 16, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I always assumed that people who don’t want the chicken pox vaccine want their children to acquire the disease in the community to obtain “natural immunity”, so what’s the problem? Call up the mom of the kid with the pox and have a chicken pox party! That’s what we did when we were kids. We all had it at the same time. I’m sure it was hell for our mothers but then it was over and ta-da, we’re all immune. What’s the problem here? She doesn’t want her kid vaccinated AND she doesn’t want her to catch it? Ridiculous.

  21. Jessica Gottlieb October 16, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Parents of unvaccinated children are creating massive health hazards for the rest of us. I am personally delighted that one of these ridiculous families is talking about feeling ostracized, alone and inconvenienced. Maybe someone else will read this and recognize that it’s easier to have vaccinated kids. I’m guessing she’s feeling really put out about missing all the newfound freedoms that kindergarten motherhood affords us.

    Imagine the kids with weakened immune systems. Now imagine the school days they’re forced to miss.

    I also don’t love the notion that herds of anti vaxxers will be homeschooling their children. These are people who have zero understanding of science. So they’ll be indoctrinating the next generation of people with fake religious beliefs.

  22. Audrey October 16, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    @Tim, Really?! Chicken pox is a rash. It itches. Shingles? Those are painful.
    1. Yes, getting chicken pox allows for the possibility of shingles later on in life. Shingles suck, but are not going to kill you unless you have prior conditions (like in the elderly).
    2.The majority of kids who get the chicken pox vaccine GET the chicken pox. But it doesn’t cause immunity.
    3. Chicken pox LATER in life, when your vaccine wears off is going to be problematic. You have a higher chance of having complications.

    Really. You know why people don’t want to deal with chicken pox? Because you actually have to take time off to deal with your kid. Heaven forbid you use your sick time to stay home. Yeah, yeah: “But what if you can’t take time off?” Then you deal. Surely you don’t walk around with no backup plan for sickness.

    I’ve taken my kids to friends houses to get the chicken pox. Remember ‘pox parties’ in the 80’s?!

  23. Liz October 16, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    I feel the need to point out that using a religious exemption doesn’t mean the mother is religious. It just means that’s the document she used to get around the vaccination requirements.

  24. Heather October 16, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Chickenpox is extremely contagious, and you only show symptoms 4 days or so after starting to be infectious to others. So the school may gain nothing by this policy unless they have a member of staff who is unvaccinated and cannot be vaccinated. It’s quite a serious disease in adults, but fairly minor in children.

    In the UK, where nobody gets the chickenpox vaccine as standard, kids who are ill have to be off school, but others can go to school. A fair number will have had the disease before they went to school, actually, as it goes around nurseries fairly regularly. Pretty much anyone who works with kids has had it, so it’s not a staff problem.


  25. Donna October 16, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    This isn’t about lawsuits. It is about the school not wanting a chicken pox epidemic. Some children (and adults) can’t get the vaccine for health reasons despite not wanting the disease. Why should they suffer for this woman’s religious beliefs?

    Nobody is saying this woman needs to get her children vaccinated, but SHE needs to suffer the burden of that choice, not those who have no choice.

  26. Leslie October 16, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Every parent has the right to determine whether or not their child is vaccinated. But to make that choice based on ignorance is a national/world heath issue. Folks even in this thread have said things that demonstrate their belief that many of the things that we vaccinate against now won’t kill the kids, and state that they were fine when they had it as kids. That is a completely ignorant statement. Let’s just focus on one of the diseases: Measles. My sister almost died of measles before the days of vaccines. I personally know two people who are deaf as a result of their mother having measles while they were pregnant. The World Health Organization states that:

    Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
    In 2012, there were 122 000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.
    Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.
    In 2012, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
    Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012.

    And yet we continue to treat measles as if it’s no big deal.

    While chickenpox does not have the same risks as measles, I still continue to be disturbed by the increase in these preventable illnesses and the severe complications and deaths among those who choose not to be vaccinated — and even more tragically, among those who for health reasons cannot be vaccinated or are too young for those vaccinations.

  27. Leif October 16, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Find out through the grapevine who the kid with chicken pox is and arrange a playdate. Be sure there’s lots of touching.
    Then kid gets chicken pox; if she needs to stay home for a few days at least it will be clear as to why. Voila: kid immunized without violating religious tenets.

  28. Bill October 16, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Herd immunity is important.

    Maybe there should be separate “plague ship” schools for those who refuse vaccination. Teachers can be issued hazmat gear if necessary. Don’t put my kid at risk because you take your health advice from kooks.

  29. Steve October 16, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    For those saying the parent should sign a waiver and allow her child to go to school, keep in mind she should also sign a statement that she’ll be responsible for the impact on other children if her child becomes ill with chicken pox.

    If she doesn’t want to vaccinate her own child that’s fine, but she must take responsibility for the impact it has on others. Or simply accept that the others don’t want their kids placed at risk due to her decision.

    After all, Free Range is all about assessing risk and taking responsibility for the impact of that risk.

  30. Mike in Virginia October 16, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I think the real problem here is that the school is trying to protect the unvaccinated child from getting the disease, when the parent clearly wants her child to get the disease (it is the only other way to confer immunity). This just seems backwards to me. There are always children who cannot receive vaccinations or who have not yet been vaccinated for various reasons that have no choice. These are the ones who must be protected by keeping intentionally unvaccinated children out of public schools. I believe in freedom and personal choice and responsibility, and no one should be forced to vaccinate their children if they do not want to. But neither should they send their kids to public school if that is their choice.

    I am 41 years old and there was no chickenpox vaccine when I was young. I got chickenpox like everyone else. 108 degree fever, horrible pain and other discomfort, two weeks of missed school and scarring are NOT things I want my children to experience, even if the long-term dangers are low. I had a brother with measles, and that was terrible to watch, but luckily I was vaccinated. I watched a friend get mumps, and again I was thankful to be vaccinated. Folks, whether or not these diseases kill is not what is most important. These diseases torture children, and just because we went through it as kids doesn’t mean our children have to. If someone wants to be uneducated about vaccines, that’s their choice, but that doesn’t give them a right to put everyone else at risk.

  31. mary October 16, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Seriously, Miriam?? “No one died.” You’re kidding right? Children died All. The. Time. from vaccine-preventable illnesses—and still do. You’re basing your conclusion on the fact that YOU didn’t die from such an illness. The ones who did are not here to tell their story. I can barely stay civil in the face of such a ridiculous conclusion. If you don’t vaccinate your children, they don’t get to go to school during an outbreak. I don’t know why this so difficult to grasp. While you are legally entitled to not vaccinate your child should you so choose, you must then live with the consequences, which includes exclusion in the face of an outbreak. Hate it for ya. Get your kids vaccinated!!

  32. Whitney October 16, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Write, I was just thinking about free range and vaccines this morning. I think 20 days is a little much, but if she chooses not to protect her child against this disease, her child is very likely to contact it and pass it on to other children for whom it may not prove benign.

  33. Queenoid October 16, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    You chose the behavior, meaning you chose the consequences. You chose to skip vaccinations and now your child is not welcome to spread disease.
    I agree with the letter-writer who suggested that you call the parent of the pox home and get the kids together. If you want your child to contract the disease naturally, get it over with.
    I have to disagree with Miriam – mumps and (especially) measles and German measles can have very serious consequences. They are big diseases.

  34. Rick October 16, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I for one don’t believe in vaccines. The decline of disease over the past century is due to better health and sanitary conditions. At the turn of the century they pumped raw waste into the streets, streams and rivers. Now we know better. I haven’t been vaccinated against anything in a quarter century and have never come down with vaccine “preventable” disease save Chicken Pox as a baby. My father lived to 87 and had one vaccine in his life back in WWII. Herd immunity is an unprovable myth. Forcing medical procedures that can kill you or damage you permanently because someone else believes they might get something if you don’t do it is unethical and against Nuremberg principles.

  35. Meg October 16, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    This is a free range issue, or rather a parental autonomy issue. Do we, as parents, have rights to decide what is done to our kids, and, if we chose paths outside the general authority, do we have rights not to be punished for them. She has a right to chose vaccinations for her daughter. The school may have a policy to keep all kids healthy, but they can’t use that to deny her child an education and punish her for a choice she has a right to make. She deserves instruction while she is kept out of school. Daily plans and such from the teacher with materials. Or placement in another school where she won’t be exposed to the virus. If other students are being kept home, the school should ask permission to share their contact information so they can support each other. Mom could even use some support from the social worker or guidance counselor to ensure the child’s handling the change ok. A child who was actually sick would get this support. I come from a time when everybody got chicken pox and I think removing her from school is extreme and very overly cautious, but she deserves her education and to not come back 3 weeks behind her peers.

  36. Rick October 16, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    That being said, I feel for the mother. Our school warned us of the same thing should someone get sick. We’ll just home school our son if it happens. What needs to be done is people need to push back against these medieval rules and laws.

  37. Barb October 16, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    It is not idiotic for parents to withhold chicken pox vax for the young.

    If the school has quarantined the child, mom should insist a tutor be provided if she doesn’t want to withdraw the child and homeschool. Mom should also talk to a pediatrician who explicitly states they do not accept freebies, etc. from drug companies and will tell her the “how & why” of the disease and not parrot state regs re: vaccination or treat you like you can’t understand medicine. (He or she may be hard to find-ask a LLL leader or homeschooler)

    I had a very informative chat with our pediatrician, who is pro-vax, about the chickenpox vax. Moms want kids to be healthy. Chicken pox vax is not required for kids to attend elem school in my state and we home school. Booster shots are now being recommended or required later in life. He has other valid concerns about this particular vaccine and only my teens have been vaccinated for chicken pox.

  38. E October 16, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    @Rick, you realize that 1 person’s experience doesn’t counter science and statistics right? Isn’t that like saying “My Grandfather smoked and lived until 80 so smoking isn’t bad for you”? Yes, that’s an extreme example, but it’s the same type of thinking.

  39. Braaainz October 16, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    I am a registered nurse and i am torn on the issue. I am a strong advocate of parent/personal liberties and rights, yet other posters are entirely correct when they talk about hers immunity and putting others at risk.i

    I have seen children with severe cases, where they were hospitalized and/or scarred for life. I try and take a long view on this though. When those children grow up, i imagine that they well insist on having their future children immunized, and their scared faces will give encouragement to parents to immunize.

    So, my stance is exactly what occurred. The mother should be entirely free to not immunize her child. However, the school system has the right to insist the child be kept at home if outbreaks occur in order to close possible vectors of infection to others in the community.

  40. Emily October 16, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    I’m on the fence about the vaccination issue, but I’m shocked at how many MORE vaccines kids have to get these days, than I got in my youth (which wasn’t that long ago–I was born in 1984). Anyway, the thing that sticks out to me here is, it’s chicken pox. The chicken pox vaccine wasn’t available where I’m from (Ontario, Canada, same as Warren) until I was around twelve years old. I got chicken pox when I was nine, and it wasn’t viewed back then as the crisis that people think it is now–it was just an itchy rite-of-passage that came with a week off of school. I remember a lot of calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, and Leave It To Beaver reruns. I was self-conscious about how I looked (because of all the spots), and I tried (not always successfully) to resist the urge to scratch…..but my very itchiest spot was right between my eyes, so I have a scar there to this day. Anyway, as you can see, I survived the experience of chicken pox relatively unscathed. My brother, unfortunately, had it THREE times (I think in the same year–I was nine, and he was six), but he also grew up to be perfectly healthy. However, most people only got chicken pox once, and if you’d had chicken pox, you were considered more or less “immune” from getting it again. When the chicken pox vaccine came out, if I remember correctly, it was an either/or thing–if you’d had chicken pox, OR been vaccinated, you were considered to be safe. I think the vaccine was sort of a good thing, because it was a good option for the worried parents who, in years past, tried to get their kids exposed (and consequently immune) to the virus early through “chicken pox parties,” because it’s apparently worse the older you get it (and it can manifest as shingles in adulthood), but my parents didn’t do that–they just let matters take their course, figuring that my brother and I would get it sooner or later, since we attended public school and interacted with other kids. Also, I’m not even sure how much truth there is in the belief that chicken pox is necessarily always worse if you get it older. I had it at an older age than my brother did, and I was told that my case was relatively mild compared to his. I’m sure that if we hadn’t had chicken pox by, say, puberty, our parents would have consulted our family doctor, but that didn’t happen. I’m also fairly sure that our doctor didn’t condone “chicken pox parties” in the pre-vaccine years either–she was probably the one who advised just letting it happen. She’s retired now, but I remember her as being a good doctor. I have to wonder, though, if she could get away with practicing medicine now the way she did in the 80’s and 90’s when I was growing up. With so many people worrying and nit-picking over every tiny aspect of their children’s development, I have a feeling she’d either have almost no patients, or she’d have a huge following of Free-Range families, and be considered a sort of “renegade” in the medical profession.

    Anyway, back to my main point–if it was any other disease besides chicken pox, I think the school would have a stronger leg to stand on. Since it’s just chicken pox, and they’re asking the girl to be out of school for 20 days. Even 20 calendar days is ridiculous, because that’s almost three times as long as a typical case of chicken pox. Starting the countdown all over again if another kid gets it is ridiculous too, because if just a handful of kids get it, then the letter writer’s daughter could miss most of kindergarten. If the girl was in a later grade, this could set her back a great deal academically. The other thing the school seems to have missed is, chicken pox is at its most contagious BEFORE the symptoms appear, so if little Susie catches chicken pox from little Joey, nobody would have any way of preventing that, because she would have caught it from him when he was at school/Scouts/soccer/swimming/whatever, and feeling perfectly healthy. Nobody would even be able to figure out what happened before seeing both children get sick, one after the other, at which point Susie might have unknowingly infected another child during the contagious pre-chicken-pox phase. So, knowing that, it appears that this school is engaging in a game of “security theatre,” and bullying the anti-vax families into bending to their will, with “Well, you CAN send your child to school unvaccinated, but we’ll treat them like lepers just because we can.”

  41. Greg October 16, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Chicken pox almost crippled me and does kill kids. But the risks are small, I admit. I do not fear for my child’s life because of chicken pox.

    What I will ask is why would any parent choose to allow their children to contract a painful, scarring disease when it can easily be prevented? Its barbaric.

    I had a particularly dreadful case of chicken pox way back in 1979. Apparently, I picked a sore (hell, I was four) and it led to an infection. I developed osteomyelitis, a bone infection, and couldn’t walk for nearly two months, all of which I spent in a hospital, receiving nightly IVs of antibiotics.

    My kids are vaccinated. It is safe. It is effective. By vaccinating my children, I am helping to protect kids who either can’t be vaccinated or for whom the vaccine didn’t create immunity.

    It IS a free-range issue in one sense: our perception of risk. There is an irrational fear of vaccines much like there is an irrational fear about letting children play unsupervised.

  42. Nadine October 16, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    vaccination works best if the whole population is vaccinated. Vaccinations never fully prevent catching the disease and if a part of the population isn’t vacinated it can cause a threat to the vaccinated poppulation. That could be the reason to ask her to stay home. It will shorten the actual length of the outbreak by removing those who are in most danger of catching and transmitting it.. Besides chickenpox might not be dangerous for kids but it is very serious for adults, preagnant women and elderly your kid comes in contact with during the period that she is infectious. And it is very infectious. So I agree with the schoolboard and I dont understand the none vaccination craze and think its dangerous.

  43. Douglas October 16, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    The chicken pox vaccine is cultured in aborted fetal tissue. There are no ethically manufactured alternatives. To say kids can’t go to school unless they take a get in line with “modern” medicine is a tough pill to swallow.

  44. Stephanie October 16, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    From the CDC website:
    “Before there was a vaccine, chickenpox was common in the United States. Each year, about 4 million people got chickenpox. Between 10,500 and 13,000 people were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 people died because of chickenpox.”

    Since the introduction of the vaccine, deaths in children/adolescents from chickenpox have been reduced 97%!!!!

    What cracks me up, is that the same people who don’t take 100+ deaths a year from chicken pox seriously, are freaked out about the possibility of a stranger abducting their child. The number stranger abductions each year is about the same number: 115.

  45. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    I am shocked by the amount of self righteous judgment being placed on this mom – here, of all places. Despite the fact that a lot of folks here seem to be experts in vaccines, the fact is vaccines are not a one size fits all fix! You can ignore side effects all you want – because no one you know had it happen, right?? Whether you choose to believe it or not, people are harmed by vaccines- but hey, as long as your kid is ok. This is a free range issue!

    I also feel vaccines should never ever be forced or mandatory. Then you might as well give up all your rights. Anytime someone in “authority” tells me I “have” to do something, I am mighty suspicious of their intent.

    And vaccine induced herd immunity is a sham! It refers to the possibility of protection for the public from people getting the natural disease not through vaccines. Do some research for yourselves.

  46. Rick October 16, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    @Stephanie The CDC is trying to imply that the reduction was due to the vaccine. Again, unprovable. It’s taking credit for the receding tide because you’re bailing the ocean.

  47. becky October 16, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Michigan has a no question waiver, but at the bottom of it you are agreeing to keep your child home if an outbreak of a preventable disease happens in your child’s school.

  48. Martha October 16, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    First of all, chicken pox can be deadly. True, dying is rare, but serious complications are less so:

    Second, many people cannot get vaccinated and rely on herd immunity, so you endanger them when you ignorantly refuse the vaccine.

    Third, no vaccine is 100%, so when you weaken herd immunity, you also endanger people who are vaccinated. They are much less likely to get sick, but they don’t have complete forever immunity, especially not if there’s a lot of virus around to resist.

    Fourth, every time a vaccine spreads to a new person, it gets a chance to mutate into something that is more deadly. Why give it that chance?

    I don’t have any sympathy for this mom. She stupidly chose to endanger her child and others, and now she doesn’t like the consequences. Wah. She should instead be grateful that the consequences haven’t been more serious, at least not yet.

  49. Diana October 16, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    I was composing a response in my head when I read Rob’s response, which is totally what I was going to say. The school is protecting the integrity of their herd immunity. And that’s exactly what this woman is riding on when her kids don’t get sick even though they’re not immunized. Unfortunately, there are children who can’t get immunized for medical reasons, and she is putting them at risk.
    Given the lack of responsibly as far as “what to tell the other parents”, I wouldn’t trust her to not sue if her daughter got sick after being exposed. The school may have prior history with the family as well. Who knows.

  50. JenCo October 16, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Without restating what many others have said, I agree that unvaccinated children should be required to stay home to protect others who have been vaccinated and may have other health issues which could result in very serious consequences.

    While parents may have the right to choose not to vaccinate, that does not free them from consequences of that choice.

    As an alternative, the parent could choose to expose her child to chicken pox in order to develop natural immunity. Then the lack of vaccination would not be an issue in the future.

  51. Warren October 16, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    LMFAO at all those that scream HERD IMMUNITY. Herd immunity is a pipe dream, that will never be effective.

    Our family doctor does not recomend the chicken pox vaccine for our kids. While your body fights off and builds immunity to the chicken pox, your immune system like any other part of your body gets stronger in general.

    We had a school push on this vaccine, and our doctor tore them a new one. Schools do not have the right to override a doctor’s treatment or non treatment of a patient.

    This school in question has it ass backward. The kid with the chicken pox should be staying home, like we all did, not the healthy kid.

    As for all of you wanting others to accept medical treatment, that we do not believe is in our best interests health wise…………sucks to be you.

  52. Lulu October 16, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    The irony here is that when people are vaccinated with live virus vaccines, they shed the virus and whoever is around them is exposed. Yet schools do not notify parents that their child is being exposed to viruses by their classmates shedding. More on vaccines and virus shedding can be read here

    There is a much larger conversation to be had about chickenpox. The UK sees it as a valuable childhood illness, that protects the population and does less harm in the long run.

    This used to be embraced in the US, until Merck developed a vaccine for Chickenpox and one for Shingles. Double profit bang for the buck, for one creates a need for the other.

    When communities have regular outbreaks of chickenpox, the adults in the community who had chicken pox infections as children receive a sort of passive booster through exposure, they get a boost of resistance to shingles.

    When did Chicken Pox become something to fear? When a vaccine was made available. If you are old enough to remember, the chicken pox vaccine was introduced as a “convenience” vaccine to make it easier on parents who would otherwise have to take time off from work to care for their child and a “convenience” for the employer who would not have to endure the parents absence.

  53. Stacie October 16, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    She should vaccinate her child. Chicken pox may not be dangerous for a healthy child, but for someone who is immune compromised, it could be deadly. This is a community safety issue.

  54. Molly October 16, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    I see your point, but what this school policy may be smart for reasons other than just protecting the individual kid from getting chicken pox. If she is in one of those districts where 1/3 of people are claiming religious exemption from vaccines, this could be meant to get people to question their “faith” or re-examine their priorities. Yes, we all got chicken pox and it wasn’t that big a deal, but remember school when we ALL had chicken pox? When it went through my elementary in 1972, approximately 1/3 of the kids were out in some grades and it went on for at least 5 weeks. THAT was a major disruption to everyone’s education. (She should take her kid over and get her exposed to chicken pox now and get it over with. In my family the severity of the disease seemed to increase with age. In kindergarten she should be able to get it and get it over with in a couple of weeks. Or get the stupid shot.

  55. Jaime October 16, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    I just wanted to say that while I have had my children vaccinated with all of the standard shots the one I really wish I could take back is Chicken Pox. I have had 7 friends tell me about their children’s bouts with shingles. 7. I suspect we might have fixed a problem simply because we could and now we are facing some unintended consequences

  56. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    ” Schools do not have the right to override a doctor’s treatment or non treatment of a patient. ”

    Which is not what they’re doing — they’re simply setting the terms for who is allowed to attend. They’re not dragging her into the doctor’s office or spiking her food with the vaccine.

    However, they should be providing home-based instruction to this kid.

  57. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    “I also feel vaccines should never ever be forced or mandatory. Then you might as well give up all your rights. Anytime someone in “authority” tells me I “have” to do something, I am mighty suspicious of their intent.”

    She doesn’t have to do it. She only has to do it for the child to attend public school uninterrupted. There are other alternatives. Choosing this particular path should be allowed, but it shouldn’t be a special case where a choice is made to have no consequences.

  58. Wendy B October 16, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    We actually exempt from the chicken pox vaccine for some damned good, science-based reasons.

    I’m not in a position to complain to the school, since I’m well aware of my state’s law. But alas, I can never live in the beautiful state of New York because its vaccine laws don’t give me this option. There, you have to take all vaccines or none and all but write a high school essay about your religious beliefs. And that’s the rub because I want to vaccinate for the other stuff.

    Anyway, if my children haven’t had chicken pox by early adolescence, they will be vaccinated then because this illness is a lot more dangerous after childhood.

    This vaccine markets itself really well to our hyper-protective, anti-free-range culture: “Oh my God!!! My children will DIE of chicken pox!!!” I understand that there are immunocompromised people out there, but they are honestly in danger of common colds, too, and have to take precautions regardless of whether people around them are vaccinated.

  59. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    “Starting the countdown all over again if another kid gets it is ridiculous too, because if just a handful of kids get it, then the letter writer’s daughter could miss most of kindergarten. ”

    I don’t think “starting the countdown all over again” means adding another 20 days for every kid, it means shifting “day 1” of the countdown each time a new case is discovered. So if the outbreak lasts two weeks (and I think that’s about normal) that means two weeks plus 20 days, which is unfortunately a lot, but not “most of kindergarten.”

    I actually don’t agree with mandatory chicken pox vaccines, but given that they’re in place, then the quarantine response logically follows. Since chicken pox is rarely a deadly disease in raw numbers, then a better alternative than mandatory vaccines is offering homebound instruction for the duration of an outbreak to any child who is medically certified to be at significant risk.

  60. Patricia Roe October 16, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    as a parent who has used exemptions for vaccines in the public schools for 14 years now I have been “prepared” for the scenario you are in. Fortunately I am still waiting. I cannot offer the advice from personal experience but I would just remind you that this scenario was one we knew we might have to deal with. So stick to your convictions and do not feel in any way that this a negative experience needing to be explained. Remember your child is not a risk to others but potentially at risk so home is the best place anyway. Look at the weeks ahead as a gift of time with your child you would otherwise have given to the school. Teach your child some new stuff she might not get at school like trips to the museums. Have fun and do not allow negatives to be a part of this experience.

  61. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Warren, I am sure the kid with the chicken pox has to stay home, too. It has always been that way dating back at least as far as 40 years ago when I was in school, long before mandatory chicken pox vaccines.

  62. Nate October 16, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    This is patently silly. My kids and my niece got the vaccine, at different times, and yet all three got chicken pox anyway – one got it TWICE! After being vaccinated!

    Using these facts and the school’s logic, hardly anyone would EVER be at school!

  63. Jennifer Hendricks October 16, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    No one has a religious objection to the chicken pox vaccine specifically. Either the child has not had any vaccines or her parents lied to get an exemption from only that shot.

    The mom should tell her daughter, “You have to stay home from school because your parents are anti-science ignoramuses who are endangering the community.”

    It is not sufficient for the parents to say “It’s okay with us if our kid gets sick because we don’t want to have deal with even the smallest consequence of our refusal to vaccinate.” Vaccination depends on herd immunity. If you just say “I won’t vaccinate because I don’t care if my kid gets a preventable disease,” you are helping the disease spread. So some kid in her class who has a parent on chemo is going to bring home the disease. Vaccination is not about over-protecting kids, it’s about using the brains we were born with to protect the entire community from preventable diseases.

    And frankly, refusal to provide medical care to a child is one place where I draw the line on parental rights. There are way too many cases of children who die because their parents think antibiotics are a sin. That’s not free range; that’s sacrificing another human being to your own delusions. The “free” in free range is supposed to refer to the child, not some sort of unquestionable power for the parent.

  64. E October 16, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Great points! Despite not vaccinating, families gain the advantage because the overwhelming % of the community HAS vaccinated. Also, as many have pointed out, the school isn’t forcing her to change her approach to vaccines, but respect the rules that they (and surely the health department) lay down for people who choose her path.

    To me, the ‘poor us’ thinking is another one of these special snowflake things — you want the school to do what you want for your kid based on what you think is best. They simply can’t operate that way — and in this case, probably have health policies that are developed by the school board/health department.

    To be blunt: they have to get over it.

  65. Rachel October 16, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I think this is a parent’s rights issue, and therefore a Free Range Kids issue. Don’t parents have the right to decide on the best course of medical treatment for their children? Don’t they have the right to refuse treatment, for a multitude of reasons? I think this is related to “medical kidnappings” by hospitals when parents refuse, don’t agree with, or want second opinions on, a treatment being recommended / insisted on by the hospital. I think the mother has every right to demand a tutor and access to the same education all of the other children are getting. As far as keeping the healthy unvaccinated child home, that makes no sense. I think the whole Free Range idea is that people overblow the idea if DANGER. Life is dangerous, disease exists, people pass diseases around and you cannot blame anyone for getting sick, it is an inherent risk of being alive. If you never want to catch anything from anyone else, you have the right to isolate yourself, but I bet you will still catch some viruses throughout your life. I personally am thankful for some vaccines, but strongly believe in the parents’ right to decide health and medical issues for themselves and their children.

  66. no rest for the weary October 16, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    “Once she has had it documented that she has had it (and when she calls the doctor to get it documented she should be prepared to go in the back door to avoid other patients,) she will no longer have to keep her daughter home.”

    Unless she’s a Christian Scientist, in which case there will be no documentation by a medical professional.

    I can certainly understand the school having the SICK child stay home for 20 days to prevent transmission… if it’s not “going around,” and “vector unvaccinated child” is not symptomatic, let her go to school!

  67. JKP October 16, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    Herd immunity does not exist. The theory is that if 95% of the population were vaccinated, then the unvaccinated would be protected too.

    95% of the population, not the children. Vaccine immunity wears off (unlike naturally immunity). And yet, according to CDC figures, the rates of adults getting booster vaccines falls in the range of 6-10%, depending on the specific vaccine. That means that for any particular disease, 90+ percent of the adult population is unvaccinated. So unless your child lives on an island of only other children with no adult contact, your child is no more at risk from an unvaccinated kid in their classroom than an unvaccinated waitress handling their food.

    Medical treatment is an individual choice. Both getting vaccines and not getting vaccines carry risk, and it’s up to parents to weigh and decide which risks they are willing to take.

  68. Sharon October 16, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    She should have already had this discussion with her daughter, but has not. She should say that chicken pox is going around and since she is not vaccinated against it, she must stay home during the contagious period. This protects her daughter from not getting chicken pox and becoming another carrier. But, mainly, it protects the other children in the school who are unable to be vaccinated or have other health issues which compromise their immune systems. Our friend’s daughter had cancer and had to miss all sorts of school events because “someone” had been sick recently. Bad enough dealing with cancer. Then, she should explain to her daughter that without vaccinations, she is much more likely to catch chicken pox and other diseases. If she has chicken pox, she is more likely to get shingles when she is an adult. The daughter is old enough to start understanding why her mother is making these choices for her. The daughter just might have a different opinion.

  69. Mark Davis October 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    What does your religious exemption have to do with vaccination? (Maybe nothing and that was just mentioned as a way in which the school was already being accommodating?)

    Anyway, as others have said, this is about herd immunity, and the child definitely should stay home. If the mother wants to know what to say to her child, maybe she should start with the truth. That has always worked well for me and I don’t think this situation should be any different.

    So, tell your child that she has to stay home because she is not vaccinated. Hopefully she will ask why she is not vaccinated, and that will lead to more truthful answers, and research, and then finally maybe you’ll both understand why what you’re doing is actually a bad idea.

    One can only hope.

  70. Jennifer October 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Religious beliefs don’t excuse selfishness. Please tell her that not only is she at high risk of contracting a preventable disease, but when she gets it, she can then spread it to others. If you want to religiously object to a vaccine, you are free to do so. You aren’t free to pose a public health risk to others.

  71. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    “I agree that unvaccinated children should be required to stay home to protect others who have been vaccinated ”

    This does not even make sense and no one has ever been able to explain this theory convincingly to me. Your child did get a vaccine so therefore she “should” be protected by said vaccine. So how on earth is an unvaccinated child a danger to yours? If my child gets sick, your vaccine should protect your child. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Vaccines do not provide the protection people think they do.

    Fear fear and more fear – under the guise of caring about our society and children. Yet cigarettes and alcohol and junk “food” which actually do kill and injure tons of people are ok with governments and society. The world is bass awkwards my friends.

    “She doesn’t have to do it. She only has to do it for the child to attend public school uninterrupted.”

    No she doesn’t technically “have” to but if she doesn’t she is subject to shame and ridicule for standing up for her beliefs. People who participate in this public and social shaming are part of the problem.

    Telling people they are ignorant, stupid and uneducated because they choose not to vaccinate is, well, ignorant, stupid and uneducated. I have found that the anti vaccine folks are the only ones actually doing any independent research and thinking for themselves.

  72. Erin October 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    The child is being kept out of school so she doesn’t become infected and infect other kids- not for her own protection. If you don’t want to keep her home, get the vaccine.

  73. Sara October 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    When you make an unconventional choice, you have to live with the consequences of that choice. Vaccinations protect us all and when a parent elects not to vaccinate, it isn’t a purely personal choice. So while chicken pox may not be that dangerous to your healthy child, her classmate who is immunosuppressed and cannot be vaccinated could die from chicken pox. It is selfish not to vaccinate.

  74. Snow October 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Honestly, I don’t want an unvaccinated child spending time with either my child or me. I almost lost my child to a disease that he was vaccinated against but came down with anyway. Had he not been vaccinated he most likely would not be here today. The vaccination did not prevent him from getting bacterial meningitis but it certainly helped prevent him from dying from it.

    I love Penn and Teller.

  75. lollipoplover October 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    ” I don’t know what to tell her friends and their parents who will notice she’s not in school.”

    Tell them your reasons for choosing not to vaccinate your child against chicken pox. Let them know there is an active outbreak in your school and in order to prevent the spread of the disease, she has to stay home.
    Ask for a tutor.
    You made this decision based on your beliefs so you might as well own it and the face the consequences of an active outbreak of Chicken Pox in your community.

    It is not a pleasant disease to have either. That is why containing it, vaccinating against it, and eradicating it have been public health goals for years.

  76. Emily October 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I meant to say, “Since it’s just chicken pox, and [the school administrators] are asking the girl to be out of school for 20 days, I think that’s excessive.”

  77. Snow October 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Tamara, no. If your child gets sick and isn’t vaccinated your child might give it to my vaccinated child who will have a milder version of the illness but might give it to my 90 year old father, who cannot fight against those things and, therefore, might die.

  78. Heather October 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    You deserve what you get lady. These vaccinations are in the best interest of the children. Why would you want to expose your child to a helpe, that is wrong. Just give her the vaccination or you should pull her from school cuz this whole idea that you think religion is a good reason to keep your child from getting vaccinated is very irresponsible of you?

  79. MichaelF October 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m not going to trash the religious exemption, everyone has their own beliefs, I may not agree with them but what I believe does not work for others either.

    I’d say this is just the price you pay when you forgo these things, the unfortunate part of the herd mentality, as has been noted here, is that everyone needs to be protected. Both medically, and legally, from the school’s perspective, they have to deal with hundreds at a time and having just one who can be a danger to many means dealing with the one to cut them off from the dangers (great and small). Then again, we see this all the time here as schools do that for pretty much ANYTHING that could cause potential harm, physically and psychologically.

    Vaccinations are tough, I regularly avoid the flu vaccines every year and even though I get the yearly frown from my pediatrician my kids have survived well enough. Like most preventatives if you avoid them it comes with a cost, me I know that if I do get the flu then I will probably really feel it and so will my kids if they get it. Schools are basically petri dishes where the disease du’jour will either come to you or your kids when you least suspect it, you deal and move on.

    If you need to explain it to your child then do so, don’t hide it if you don’t need to otherwise you may need to go through this again. Call the teacher, see what you can do to keep your kid up to date and see about play dates so she keeps in contact with her classmates. It’s not really a free range issue, to me, but it is a parenting issue where when hiccups like this come up you deal.

  80. K2 October 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I had my kids vaccinated, but in fairness to this woman I think there are too many vaccines and that as a country we may be approaching the limit or a point where the immune system’s of children can’t handle them all well. Certainly there is controversy over whether they contribute to other problems. Was the CDC ready for ebola or were they busy putting in bike paths and doing studies on how monkeys communicate by flinging their poop? Should we as a country have 100% confidence that the CDC knows how many vaccines all children can handle? Maybe some can handle more than others? I don’t know. I don’t necessarily share this woman’s religious beliefs, but I don’t condemn her either.

  81. suzanne October 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    herd immunity is important.

    if you chose not to vaccinate your child, they are more susceptible to disease. if you want to take that risk, fine. but if the school is trying to control an outbreak by removing kids who are likely to contract the illness, that is an action on behalf of the campus of a whole.

    if a mom chooses not to allow her kid to gain herd immunity via vaccinations, then she should be prepared to pay the penalty of absences to ensure her child doesnt contract and spread a disease that could send more children home from school.

  82. Reziac October 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    You people who don’t think “childhood diseases” can be fatal need to visit a 19th century cemetary. Look at all the headstones for children. Most of them died of what are now preventable diseases.

  83. Lara October 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Tim- My daughter had chickenpox when she was 15 months old. 6 months before the vaccine was available. When she was in 8th grade 3 girls in her class got shingles. They all 3 had the vaccine when they were babies. So the vaccine does NOT keep you from getting shingles. They were all told they could get it again when they are older too. My sister was vaccinated lil the rest of us kids for MMR. She had measles and mumps and was til her titers were still low enough she could contract either of those diseases again.

  84. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    “Tamara, no. If your child gets sick and isn’t vaccinated your child might give it to my vaccinated child who will have a milder version of the illness but might give it to my 90 year old father, who cannot fight against those things and, therefore, might die.”

    Then why do you out the onus for your father’s health on my child? There is much more to health than just getting vaccinated. Why do I have to compromise my beliefs, which I think are right, by calling them beliefs you see, in order to adjust to your beliefs? Maybe your 90year old father should stay home if he fears illness. You can live in a bubble if you like. Illness and disease do happen and you can’t protect from it permanently. Doctors and even science is not infallible – remember DES? Remember doctors smoking on tv? Telling you which cigarette band is the best for relaxation? Educate yourself and make an informed decision.

    This is not a convincing argument

  85. lollipoplover October 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Schools are petri dishes for germs.
    My daughter’s class has 3 kids out this week with the flu.
    My personal cringe-fest is when I get the form that tells of a Lice outbreak. Noooooo. I want to take a shower after reading about nit infestations and what to look out for.

    I had chicken pox as a baby and later in my late 30’s as shingles. Shingles felt like I was wearing a stabby bra of safety pins with searing hot pain. I thought I needed to be committed to an asylum, but no, not deadly. Worse.

    I also came down with mumps my senior year of college (thanks to not getting the 2nd titer for the vaccine) and had to miss all of my final exams (yes!) and graduations(no!) because I was in quarantine. There was an active outbreak on campus and I could not leave my apartment. I missed graduation parties and was absolutely miserable when I should have been celebrating with my friends.
    Personally, I choose to vaccinate my kids against these diseases.

  86. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    *eek, should say Put the onus!

  87. SKL October 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    This makes no sense. When I was a kid, everyone got chickenpox and nobody had to stay home from school because they might catch it! People used to bring their kids over to other houses where there was chickenpox, so the kids could catch it while young (because it is more severe if caught at an older age). I think some people still have “chicken pox parties” in some communities.

    Best part of it is, vaccinated kids can still get the chickenpox, multiple times! And the vax wears off, so they are more likely to get it when they are older and it is more dangerous. And they can still get shingles too.

    My kids’ doc told me that if I didn’t get them the chickenpox vax as preschoolers, “they could DIE.” Seriously bullshit!! I mean, yeah, there is probably a one in a billion chance of that, but what about all the other shit that is 1000x more likely to kill them, like sitting in my car on the way to the doctor’s office?

    I eventually caved and got the shot when my kids went into 1st grade (new school) because I didn’t have the energy to fight about it. I always intended to get them the vax if they didn’t catch the pox by about age 9. The chances of that around here are pretty slim, so I sucked it up and got the shot.

    I hate it when parents feel they have little choice but to do something stupid / unnecessary just because a bunch of other ninnies are convinced it is needed.

  88. SKL October 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    And if the school has a policy to make non-vaxed kids stay home for 20 days every time the pox is found at school, then they should tell parents this up front. Not everyone has a backup solution for a young kid to miss 20 days of school. The knowledge of that possible consequence would influence the decisions by some parents to vax or not.

  89. Milica October 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    There may be a child with a compromised immune system in her class or grade that they may be needing to protect as well. HIPPA would prevent the school from telling her that if the parents have requested it not be revealed. If people choose not to vaccinate, they also need to be willing to take extra steps to protect others.

  90. SKL October 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I also think it’s really alarming to read the comments here. Normally sane people have really become convinced that chickenpox is a dangerous illness for children. How ridiculous. And scary.

    Those of us who had chickenpox as young kids and remember it are getting past the parenting age, and pretty soon there will not be any parents who know from personal experience that chickenpox is not much more concerning than the common cold. Actually less, because unlike a cold, once you have a full-blown case of chickenpox, you generally won’t get it again.

    And I’ve had shingles too. It sucks. So does sunburn and a lot of other things people deal with and don’t vax for.

  91. EricS October 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Sadly this is a matter of choice with consequences. I believe in certain vaccinations. I wish they had chicken pox vaccinations when I was a kid. I got them, so did my siblings. We rode it out. But it was one of the worse experiences that I can remember. And although chicken pox isn’t fatal, some children have died from it in the past. As well as adults, who never built the immunity to chicken pox, by not getting it as a kid. Which is why they should be getting inoculated as well.

    I don’t think this is the school getting all paranoid. Chicken pox is a real issue, and very contagious. I do believe the 20 day quarantine from the school is a good idea. Especially if some children aren’t getting vaccinated. I respect people’s religious beliefs of not getting medicated or vaccinated. But I also respect those that would rather not infect other people. It’s a matter of choice with consequence. If your religious beliefs prevent you from inoculating your child, then you have to have the understanding and respect of the the school’s decision to keep your child away from others who have contracted the illness. Or spread it if they already do. Or you protect your child, by vaccinating them, and going against your beliefs. There really is no other choice. I’m sure the school also doesn’t want to be liable for kids who don’t get vaccinated, when they get sick. It’s a litigious world we live in now. Maybe sign a waiver with the school. Releasing them of any lawsuit if your child gets sick by going to school.

    I say make the most of the 20 day quarantine if you do not want to vaccinate your child. And pray that when she gets the chicken pox (and she will), it’s not severe. Stock up on calamine lotion. 😉

  92. Erin Hardey October 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Vaccinations are inherently unsafe. We don’t vaccinate anymore after outr children have had reactions and long term issues.
    that said, she should be able to sign a waiver for her daughter to go to school if desired. However, we also homeschool, so I think thats a fabulous choice, as well, lol.

  93. Asya October 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Wow, such hateful comments from the pro vaccine people.

  94. Neil M. October 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Not to seem extremist, but I do NOT think Americans should have a choice to vaccinate. Vaccinations are necessary for a healthy society, and the mainstream of scientific opinion supports this. Those who do not vaccinate their children endanger us all. We all want choice, but because we live in a society, this is one choice we must yield, for the good of all.

  95. Loreen October 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    For all those saying “herd immunity is a myth” how exactly do you explain the eradication of polio? I just met a lady who had polio before the vaccine. She got it at age 7 and it caused her to walk with crutches. She still gets debilitating pain in her hands. Measles, once rare, is making a major resurgence in my community because of the anti vaccination craze.
    Chicken pox is not as serious in elementary school kids, but it is painful. A high fever, aches and pains, sores and potential scaring. My brother got it at age 2 and had pox under his eyelids, on his penis, in his ears. My mom had to tie his hands at night to keep him from ripping off his skin. Small infants in the house could be infected and potentially die. Voluntarily taking your kid to be infected in a chicken pox party is disgusting. And, yeah, sorry, you don’t get to keep your kid in school during this period. The parents rights stop when they refuse to vaccinate. No one will force them to. But they don’t get to turn around and deliberately put other kids at risk.

  96. Julie October 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    I’m British and we do not vaccinate against chickenpox here (because scientists here have looked at the evidence and come to the conclusion that its a harmless childhood illness and that it’s better for the general population not to be vaccinated). Both my sons have had it – my eldest was 5 and it was no worse than a cold, my younger son was almost 2 and was a little bit more poorly because of his age but nothing to worry about. I was also pregnant at the time but as I’d had it as a child my daughter wasn’t at risk either. I know there can be complications but I don’t know anyone who’s ever had any and considering it’s something that everyone here gets that is unusual if it’s as dangerous as some of you suggest.
    Someone said it was a free range issue because of the irrational fear of vaccines – I’d put it the other way and say it’s a free range issue because of the irrational fear of illness. Being sick is part of life and is something that children have to experience, we can’t and shouldn’t protect them from everything.
    One last thing – there is a lot of judgemental comments on here and I find that ironic for a community which feels judged and controlled by laws which restrict their childrens freedom.

  97. Bob October 16, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    An interesting dilemma that pits personal choice against public thought. Part of the ‘self-centered’ view pervasive in our culture (which is why I subscribed to ‘Free Range Kids’ in the first place… to take issue with a ‘self-centered’ world view of the ‘politically correct’ way to raise kids). The point of ‘free range kids’ to me is the superiority of rational ‘mindful’ choices. So let’s look at what is the ‘rational mindful’ choice about vaccinations…

    What is the ‘rational’ basis for refusing vaccinations? It appears to be the ‘feeling’ that it puts our children at risk. However I can find no ‘scientific’ basis for that belief. If you don’t trust science and the source data then I don’t know what to say except that this is also a ‘feeling’. A citizen is fully entitled to their feelings and opinions but they are not entitled to their own ‘facts’ that are not supported by evidence.

    What is the rational basis for vaccines? Simply put there are many diseases that were virtually eradicated by public health inoculation programs… had almost disappeared from the planet until recently when folks started to refuse the treatment. (Scientifically in research/statistics this is “the power of the test” which means did the treatment work and to prove it withdraw the treatment and see if the original condition returns.)

    The pervasive ‘self-centeredness’ I refer to is smuggled into the reactions suggesting that the Mom signs documents holding the school harmless. That’s NOT the reason the child is home. That child has a higher probability of getting the illness and transmitting it to others. People did die from chicken pox. A small number to be sure but a large number if it was you or a family member. We are actually complacent and minimize risk exactly as a result of the prevalence of immunization shots. To add a different and exaggerated view point… should the family members exposed to the first Ebola case in the US be allowed to reject their quarantine? Would it be OK for them to go to school?

    And this leads to the final point… what do we owe each other? If I make a different decision than most of my peers and I expect them to respect me don’t I need to respect their viewpoint as well? There are always consequences for our decisions and some are positive and some are negative… but these values are determined by my point of view not necessarily by the actions themselves. People would consider it foolish that I yell at the tide because it is too low to launch my boat… they would say that’s nature and you must accept it. But nature is ‘human nature’ as well! It should be expected and predictable that people and political systems will act in certain ways… a public health system is functioning to serve the greatest number of people based on the best available scientific knowledge NOT the individual exception.

    As for being anxious and overwhelmed so as to not know what to do about the situation… it seems to me that is the reason why vaccinations were rejected in the first place… being worried and having such an overwhelming hysterical chorus of misinformation that it was impossible to process scientific facts.

  98. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    “Not to seem extremist, but I do NOT think Americans should have a choice to vaccinate. Vaccinations are necessary for a healthy society, and the mainstream of scientific opinion supports this. Those who do not vaccinate their children endanger us all. We all want choice, but because we live in a society, this is one choice we must yield, for the good of all.”

    This is unfortunately an extremist view – so everyone should be forced to vaccinate even if it harms, injures or kills some children – again as long as your child isn’t one of those unlucky “few” so now choosing not to vaccinate would be a crime? To keep us all safe? Enjoy your propaganda kool aid.

  99. Jennifer Blood October 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Have the child’s immune status tested (blood titer). If she is immune, ask her doctor to write a note to the school stating that fact. If she is not immune, you have three choices: keep the child out of school, find someone with a case of chicken pox and have her exposed, or have her vaccinated.

  100. Liz October 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    I am not anti-vax. BUT there are two that my child will not have (nor will I): flu and chicken pox, because allergies and sensitivities run in my family. Both my mother and grandmother had allergies to something in the flu vaccine that left them debilitated for months after receiving it, and both stopped getting it (and my grandmother was a nurse). When someone says I should try it and “see what happens” I look at them like they’ve grown another head: being sick for a week or two verses debilitated for months?! Not something I want to risk! With the chicken pox, most of nieces and nephews had allergic reactions to it, and one actually developed shingles from it (which runs in our family). They are all about the same age, so they all got it at the same time. Again, the risk that this could happen to my son is too great for me to give to him so that he could spend a few weeks not being itchy. Because I am assuming the risks here, I would not be upset if my child didn’t get to participate in things because he didn’t have these vaccines, and I already not planning on sending him to public school, where it would be a bigger issue. I don’t think this mother has a right to complain about how the school is treating them, because all schools inform people that if an outbreak of whatever it is they aren’t vaccinated against happens the student will be removed from class. It’s stated right on the release that must be signed. So she shouldn’t be acting so blindsided by her child’s removal.

  101. Paul October 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    As for all of you wanting others to accept medical treatment, that we do not believe is in our best interests health wise…………sucks to be you.

    Warren, thank you for demonstrating the utter selfishness and stupidity of the anti-vaccine movement.

  102. Ben October 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Why does the whole system have to act backwards? Chickenpox is extremely contagious (and if the kids’ vaccinations are not up to date, even vaccinated kids run the risk of catching it. Instead of keeping the vaccinated kid home, shouldn’t it be the one spreading the disease that should be isolated from their class mates. Not only does this makes things safer all around, it is also a lot easier to explain. “You can’t go to school because you’re sick and we don’t want your friends to get it too.”

  103. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Wow here I am defending warren – who I know actually needs no help from me!

    Why must you call someone stupid for questioning and taking an educated stance?

    The original question here though – should a healthy unvaccinated student be kept out of school during another students illness? That’s ridiculous unless they are actually symptomatic. My kid is sick I would keep her home. If schools choose this policy too keep the majority healthy then school should not be mandatory to begin with.

  104. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Ben, the post doesn’t say the sick kids aren’t being kept home. I’m sure they are — I’m pretty sure it’s been a matter of law everywhere for decades that they must be kept home for a stated time after diagnosis.

    It just doesn’t mention that. The reason for the non-vaccinated kid to be kept home even if the sick ones are is that she may already have been exposed during the sick kids’ incubation period, and is more able to pass the disease on than vaccinated kids are.

  105. K2 October 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    I think Lara’s point is also very important for the “herd” to be aware of. We are taught to believe the vaccines will work and they don’t always. MMR has a relatively high rate of ineffectiveness in recent years despite it’s success when those diseases were more prevalent.

  106. E October 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I guess my question is….does the Mom think they school is just punishing her for her vaccination choices? That they aren’t following guidelines set out by their school system/health department? I just looked up ours and it’s the same (though the time out is not listed). And those rules are listed on a State Level Health Dept website. End of story.

    Remember, you have an *exemption*, meaning your choice is not standard and not preferred.

  107. pentamom October 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    “That’s ridiculous unless they are actually symptomatic.”

    Not under the rationale they’re using. The rationale is, contagious chicken pox should never be present in the school. Chicken pox is contagious before the kid is symptomatic. Therefore, all non-vaccinated kids who have been exposed to chicken pox are potentially contagious until the incubation period is past, and should not be in school.

    If you’re going to have mandatory vaccines, with the goal of never having contagious kids in the school ever, this is a perfectly logical approach. Whether that’s a good goal and a good policy is another matter.

  108. Andrea October 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    I have seen a number of posts like these:

    “First of all, chicken pox can be deadly. True, dying is rare, but serious complications are less so.

    Second, many people cannot get vaccinated and rely on herd immunity, so you endanger them when you ignorantly refuse the vaccine.”

    It makes a jump that I would like to better understand — since when are we REQUIRED to take drugs to save strangers’ lives? Is that a standard we are willing to accept? And I’m not talking about “choosing to” because you are a good person, but being “required to.” And I am not just talking about vaccinations. The second we start talking about REQUIRING people to do something to their own person, we travel into dangerous territory that feels warm and fuzzy when we are talking about vaccinations, but is less so when it gets applied to other things.

  109. Snow October 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Tamara, my 90 year old father hasn’t been outside in 2 years. However, if your kid gets sick and causes my kid to get sick, maybe even so slightly that my kid doesn’t know he is sick, and my kid gives Grandpa a hug, my father could still die because of your kid wasn’t vaccinated.

  110. Chad October 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    As a 39-year-old who is *right now* trying to recover from my first bout of Shingles, any assertion that Chicken Pox is a harmless disease is a load of shit. Looking at you, Melissa, Buffy, others. Vaccinate.

  111. Snow October 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    It’s too bad all the anti-vax people can’t all live in the same city, away from everyone else.

  112. K2 October 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Tamara – If I really thought the CDC were seriously working hard on how many vaccinations kids can handle and which ones are really effective enough to use I might share your opinion that everyone should have to get vaccinated, but the hard earned tax dollars are instead being spent on bike paths and research about how poop flinging affects monkeys communication. General science indicates that some vaccines are highly beneficial, but more research is needed as we keep adding more and more. It might not be a few children who suffer as the CDC appears to be winging it. It might be a lot and that I would not endorse that. Unfortunately, we do not have the level of education or ethics needed in some of these politically appointed posts to have everyone forced to do something like that. Money and power corrupts and no one does anything useful if there isn’t an immediate epidemic.

  113. Snow October 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    And while I’m at it, if your kid is sick, has a fever, don’t be an idiot and give them Tylenol to reduce the fever and send them to school when they’re sick. That annoys the living crap out of me. And if you’re sick, stay home. I don’t want you giving me your illness.

  114. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    “Your choice is not standard or preferred”
    Well that really is the most truthful thing written here yet in my opinion.

    Meaning also that your choice is more inconvenient and difficult FOR US – the school, the workplace, whatever.

    Fortunately I’m used to this mentality – I’m pretty much an athiest, hippie, vegan, anarchist, unschooler – that makes my belief pretty inconvenient for most people and I’ve developed a pretty thick skin but I know I am not the only one making unconventional choices. The world is not just for your easy convenience. All people have rights so don’t go feeling all self righteous that yours is the best way!

  115. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Ah, snow, I would be happy to build that city. If only I were “allowed” to

  116. Jennifer October 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Herd Immunity – great for you to have your beliefs about vaccinations, but there are consequences to your choice. Namely, if you choose to go the route that potentially compromises the health of other members of society, expect society to ask you, politely, to step away.

    I was the kid in school that got Chicken Pox late and had complications, resulting in having to stay home for more than a month in extreme discomfort. My husband has never had CP and has no immunity to it. The disease is very dangerous in adults – so as a member of society, I object to kids joining the group that may be carriers of it.

  117. SKL October 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    The problem with some of the thinking below is that the government shouldn’t get to essentially force everyone to prevent everything, even things that are really quite benign.

    Chickenpox in the KG/primary school is nothing alarming. My kids’ school (where they attended unvaxed thru KG) had a couple of chickenpox exposures, and my kids never even caught the pox. They were not treated any differently because I had decided not to vax them at that time.

    This is no different from the school disallowing kids from walking to/from school, or being accompanied by a parent who has not been screened.

    And if we’re going to be like this about chickenpox, then what next? Are we going to suspend kids who don’t have the HPV vax? The flu vax? Are they going to do this with every new vax the drug companies come up with, regardless of how much danger is involved or how controversial the vax is? How can that sit well with free range parents?

  118. SKL October 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    I don’t believe herd immunity is a valid government goal with respect to chickenpox.

    There. I said it.

  119. Donna October 16, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    “And if the school has a policy to make non-vaxed kids stay home for 20 days every time the pox is found at school, then they should tell parents this up front.”

    It is an extremely well known policy. I never considered not vaccinating and I still know that policy exists. I believe it is even printed on our local vaccine waiver forms. I find it incredibly hard to believe that she didn’t know this was going to happen. She just didn’t think that it would ever be an issue and is now pissed that it happened.

    And this rule has been in place for DECADES. We had a local measles outbreak in 1990. A childhood friend of my brother, who was exempt from measles vaccine, was immediately removed from school. All the schools, even the university, eventually mandated a measles booster or removal from school until the outbreak was over.

  120. Papilio October 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Typically a case of ‘your freedom stops where that of others begins’, IOW, do whatever you like as long as it effects only YOU. Whether ‘YOU’ should include your child(ren) is another debate, but it certainly doesn’t include other people’s children, pregnant women other than you or other people’s 90yo fathers.

    That said, vaccination against chicken pox isn’t even standard here, which makes this particular vacs discussion a bit weird for me…

  121. SKL October 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Donna, maybe it’s a regional thing, because I have never heard of that 20 day rule.

    Obviously if a kid gets sick then he needs to be out of school. But I have never heard of a rule that if someone else’s kid gets sick, my kid needs to be out of school for 20 days.

    Maybe it would make sense in the case of measles, but chickenpox? Really? Flu is dangerous to old people too, should they suspend every kid who doesn’t have the flu vax if one student in the school comes down with the flu?

  122. E October 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    @Tamara — what you quoted from me is the truth, but we’re not talking about people stopping you on the street or in your home, we’re talking about school system that runs under the health department’s guidelines in their attempts to keep the school population (100s or 1000s of people in one small place) healthy and minimize the spread of infectious diseases.

    I’m not interested in debating Vaxs, but I’m not so naive to believe the school system has to adapt their policies (and of course they cannot anyway) because I’ve made a choice that has clearly stated (potential) impacts to my kid attending school.

  123. E October 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    @SKL — from my state’s Health Dept website:

    The school is required to maintain immunization records which contain information required for a Certificate of Immunization for all children attending the school. The school should keep a separate listing of students having medical or religious exemptions. These children may be excluded from attending school in the event of an outbreak.

    It’s hard to imagine that if you ask for an exemption that this information isn’t conveyed at that time, but in any event, for anyone that’s getting an exemption, the information is right there on a state website concerning immunizations.

  124. SKL October 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Regarding the 90yo grandpa. I am sorry, but he’s going to die of something eventually. There is 100% likelihood that his grandkids are going to be exposed to something that “could” kill him. A common cold or flu could do it, and I’m not going to quarantine my non-flu-vaxed kids for 20 days every time another kid at school has the flu, because a third kid at school might have a 90yo grandpa. Nor am I going to get the flu vax just because some kid at school probably has a 90yo grandpa. Nor do I hold my kids’ classmates’ parents responsible for keeping my elderly parents healthy.

  125. Martin October 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    The school is right to keep children who haven’t been vaccinated from attending. This isn’t to protect those who choose not to vaccinate, but to protect those who cannot be vaccinated as well as those whose immunity is compromised for other reasons. Allowing a pool of unvaccinated children to be exposed to chicken pox or any other vaccine-preventable disease puts the entire community at risk. Should the child receiving chemotherapy be exposed to a disease that might potentially kill him because your child, who you voluntarily left vulnerable to illness, doesn’t want to miss school? You made your choice, live with the consequences.

  126. Donna October 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    “Chickenpox in the KG/primary school is nothing alarming.”

    It is for some kids. It is also much more serious for adults – a group that does exist in schools. Some are acting as if schools are made up of solely children or only the children are at risk for illness in schools and all the adults are immune.

    Personally, I don’t care one way or another about the mandatory nature of the chicken pox vaccine. I’m fine either way. But the second the school chooses to make it mandatory, you make yourself a special exception by not getting it. That is 100% your choice to make, however, the ONLY person who should bear any burden from that choice is the person making it, not the people who have no part in the choice.

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous that so many here are so dismissive of OTHER PEOPLE getting chicken pox. Why exactly does SKL (just the last person who said it) get to decide what illnesses must be acceptable to other people? Even though chicken pox is rarely deadly, it is actually acceptable for society to say “chicken pox is a unpleasant illness that we’d rather not have running rampant in our schools since it can be avoided by vaccine.”

  127. lollipoplover October 16, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Schools require documentation on vaccinations for Kindergarten and 6th grade here. I think dental exam is required in 3rd grade. If you don’t show that your child had the chicken pox vaccine, they can be excluded from class trips and other activities.

    I have a good friend (her husband is a doctor) who does not believe in the chicken pox vaccine and went through this.
    There was an outbreak at school. Both of her children were told to stay home. She tried to fight it and get them back in school. One of her kids got chicken pox and went through the mandatory quarantine. The other did not but they showed testing of her immunity and she was admitted back before an additional quarantine was tacked on.

    Protocols aimed at containing the spread of disease exist for a reason. We need only look at the bungling of the Ebola patient(s) in the US to see how quarantines limit the spread of disease. Flying on planes after you treated an Ebola patient and have a fever generally do not.

  128. E October 16, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    @SKL -in regard to Flu vaccines, the don’t cover all influenza strains so it would be difficult to manage all the various exposures. It would also be a nightmare for schools to have to manage, collecting flu shot data for the entire population every single year.

    Some things are not the same, despite people continuing to draw the comparisons.

    I understand the FR thinking when it comes to making decisions about what your child is physically and mentally mature enough to do. That’s different than public health matters that impact an entire school population. It just is.

  129. SKL October 16, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    People are free to voluntarily vax their kids against chickenpox if they personally do not want their kids to catch it.

    That is completely different from declaring that it is something to be banned from society (which the 20-day suspension essentially does).

    I may want to cut up my kids’ hot dogs until they are 12yo, but that is a lot different from telling you that you have to do that or saying that if you don’t, your kid deserves to be excluded from all activities that might involve hotdogs.

    I would also note that vulnerable older kids and adults are free to get chickenpox vax if they so desire. Why should my kids, who are not at risk of harm, have to be vaxed so that older kids and adults, who are at greater risk, don’t need to?

  130. Tamara October 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    Look, I am not actually an anti vax er – I am sure some vaccines have some benefits – or they did at one point. I am pro freedom to choose however. School is mandatory. Technically vaccines are not. Yet. Government runs schools. Forcing you to take a healthy but not vaccinated child out of school because they “might” be unknowingly contagious is punitive and manipulative under the guise of public protection. They are hoping you will cave and just get your darn kid vaccinated already and they make it difficult enough so many do. Yay you won. But what are we losing in terms of freedoms and human rights when we start forcing people to do what they feel is unnecessary and unjust.

    Again- follow the money -a lot of people make a lot of money from vaccines and that’s why we should all have as many as possible.

  131. J- October 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    With the chicken pox, I think the school might be over reacting. I wasn’t vaccinated against chicken pox, neither, do I think were most kids in the 80’s. We got it the old fashioned way.

    That said. I more than just believe in vaccines. The point of mass vaccinations is more than just the protection of individuals, but of whole societies. When a critical percent of a population is vaccinated, the likelihood of an infected person coming in contact with a non vaccinated person drops, and the rate of transmission halts the spread of the disease. Vaccination acts like a fire break in a forrest fire to stop the spread. I think school children should be vaccinated if they attend public school for just this reason. If this woman doesn’t want to vaccinate, thats her choice. But she needs to live with the consequences, which might involve either a religions private school or home schooling.

  132. Elizabeth October 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I have a question. I am a senior citizen who never gets the flu shot and never gets the flu. I believe in free choice for everyone when it comes to vaccines. I am anti vaccine. This is my question. If your child has a vaccine and the child next to you does not, how is your child at risk from the unvaccinated child? Your child is protected by the vaccine you choose(is it not?) so I truly do not understand why you feel all the other children need to be vaccinated. It is a real question and I would love an answer. I believe everyone needs to make their own choice AFTER studying all the potentially dangerous side effects. Thanks.

  133. Puzzled October 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    1. I wasn’t aware that chickenpox was one of the vaccinations required, or that requires a waiver.
    2. I fail to see the problem. Keeping the daughter home for 20 days prevents the disease spread (to some extent, given the incubation period, and that most are vaccinated,) protects immunocompromised students, and, for 20 days, eliminates the indoctrination the child is receiving. I’d say win-win.
    3. While I am not against most vaccines (but do not get the flu vaccine) I consider it a person’s right to control what is injected into their body, and consider it an act of assault to require immunizations.

  134. lee Baldwin October 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    chicken pox is contagious before symptoms are present. IF the girl is exposed, and develops chicken pox, she becomes a disease vector to the wider public. so, say she is exposed at school, and then goes shopping with mom, while she is contagious yet unsymptomatic. there happens to be a pregnant woman shopping, who is either unvaccinated because she had an egg allergy (for example), or who has a low titer… and this woman contracts chicken pox. now, chicken pox may not be one of the worst childhood diseases but it can have repercussions: Complications include:

    Bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints or bloodstream (sepsis)
    Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
    Toxic shock syndrome
    Reye’s syndrome for people who take aspirin during chickenpox

    for pregnant women,chickenpox early in pregnancy can result in a variety of problems in a newborn, including low birth weight and birth defects, such as limb abnormalities. A greater threat to a baby occurs when the mother develops chickenpox in the week before birth. Then it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection in a newborn.
    and then there’s the fact that people vaccinated for chickenpox are not going to get shingles, either. those of us that are of the pre-vaccine era are highly likely to develop shingles unless we get the vaccination for that.
    i could go on & explain hrd immunity, etc., but really, this woman should just be grateful her school is responsible for the community, because she’s missing the point whining about how this is affecting her life, when she’s not considering anyone but herself.

  135. lee Baldwin October 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    and for the person who said tey were around before vaccines, and they just got the disease, no one died, life went on? i’m 60. i lost 3 classmates (died) in kindergarten & first grade, had one classmate go blind, and 2 became deaf, from childhhood diseases that we can now prevent. and that’s not considering my classmates & their families that were affected by polio…

  136. E October 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    @SKL – some people cannot get the Vax due to their own medical situations.

    Not directed at SKL, but it’s interesting the level of mistrust here. It’s as if vaccines have not proven their effectiveness or something. I get that some people mistrust and that’s their choice (for their children), but some of the comments read like they just don’t believe vaccines have been a positive health development in the world.

  137. Whitney October 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    “THURSDAY, April 11, 2013 (HealthDay News) — The death from chickenpox of an otherwise healthy 15-year-old Ohio girl should remind parents of the importance of vaccination against the disease, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.”

  138. Donna October 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    “Donna, maybe it’s a regional thing, because I have never heard of that 20 day rule.”

    If by “regional,” you mean the region of the US encompassing both California and Georgia, then possible. It has been a well known policy everywhere I’ve lived for years.

    It isn’t a 20 day rule. It is simply a statement that unvaccinated children will be removed from school should there be an outbreak. I think the amount of actual time depends on the specific illness, but I could be wrong. I asked my Christian Scientist friend and she knew about this policy in the 80s (Arizona). It just wasn’t relevant until the recent anti-vax craze because not vaccinating was rare and outbreaks of diseases associated with vaccines were extremely rare. Most of us went through 12 years of school without a single classmate getting measles, mumps, rubella or polio so any policy concerning unvaccinated children was completely irrelevant.

  139. Becky October 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    You don’t know what to tell your child? You tell her, “Mommy and Daddy made a choice for you based on what we believe and because of that we have to keep you out of school for awhile.” It’s not like you’d be the first person to disappoint their child because of a religious-based decision they made on their behalf. Hell, other kids parents always managed to disappoint “me” by insisting that my friends attend religious services they didn’t care a whit about instead of playing with me on beautiful Sunday mornings. It’s not that you don’t know what to tell your child, it’s that you’re afraid she’ll realize that your decision was based upon arbitrary beliefs, and made without her consultation, and that she will be angry at you because of it.

  140. E October 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    @Becky — I think the other part of the “I don’t know what to say…” is directed at other people that will now know her choice and until now had not.

  141. Jill October 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    I don’t want to debate vaccines. There are two important issues the Parents here can consider.

    1. If you received an exemption from vaccinating due to your religious convictions and your child is now being denied access to her education, you may have a case for religious discrimination. (Child is being treated differently because of a religious choice).

    2. Point 1 notwithstanding, even if the school has legal ground to bar your child from attendance, your state may require your school district to provide her with alternative educational opportunities (including providing free transportation to a different school). Find out what your state law requires.

    And since when is chicken pox some kind of deadly contagion that we all must fear? Gads – it’s not like it’s ebola!

  142. maggie October 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    there are a lot of people here saying “herd immunity” – are you all up to date on your boosters? If you aren’t then you better get them quick to contribute to that herd immunity. protection from vaccinations only last a few years.

    Vaccinated kids can still catch the disease so why not just close the school down for 20 days? or if other kids catch it then patient zero’s parents should be held responsible – just like some people are saying that the parents of the unvaccinated child should be if they catch and spread it, right? Fair’s fair, after all.

  143. Donna October 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    SKL – Some people can’t get the vaccine. Some people have immunity issues – some permanent and some temporary – for which chicken pox can be deadly despite being vaccinated. THOSE people have preference in my mind. This is not to say that you have to get a vaccine that you don’t want; just that YOU suffer the consequences of the choice not to, not them. There is absolutely no thought process where I think that I have a right to choose not to be vaccinated and some other kid on chemo then has to miss school because of that choice. I should be the only one who has to miss school because of my choices.

  144. lollipoplover October 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    “That is completely different from declaring that it is something to be banned from society (which the 20-day suspension essentially does).”

    This is only during the RARE incident of an outbreak.
    Banned, suspension. No!
    The child is quarantined because of potential exposure. In the 7 years of attending our elementary school, there has only been one outbreak.

    You can choose to not vaccinate your children.
    No judgement.
    But when there’s an active outbreak in your child’s school and your child is exposed and a potential spreader of this disease, all bets are off.

  145. Carl October 16, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    “I also don’t think chicken pox is that dangerous…” There have been several comments on that point. For information on the link between chickenpox in childhood and shingles in adulthood (caused by the same virus), have a look at

    “Chickenpox Reactivated — Research begun in the 1950s has shown that when we recover from childhood chickenpox infections, the virus that causes the infection, varicella zoster virus, remains latent in nerve cells. …”

  146. CKO October 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    My daughter has celiac disease – a compromised immune system. I DO vaccinate her, because I need all the help I can get to keep her healthy.

    Vaccines don’t fully work on her, because of her genetic condition. I rely on the good sense and courtesy of parents to keep their sick kids home. She still gets sicker than her siblings, but her holistic doctor knows it would be worse without vaccines.

    Any kid who selfishly infected my daughter just to prove a point is malicious.

    Lenore, do you really see not vaccinating as a Free Range issue? You preach responsibility, not malice. Risk assessment, not isolation and fear.

  147. Julie October 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm #


    I am a pediatrician and a Free Range parent, and I completely side with the school on this one.

    Yes, it’s true that we parents all got chicken pox as kids…but back then, we didn’t have MRSA (resistant staph infections on the skin). Nowadays, there is a small but real risk of secondary, severe skin infection following chicken pox. Also, consider the lost school time, lost parental work time…all completely avoidable by a safe, effective vaccine. The vaccine also prevents shingles, which is basically a reactivation of chicken pox from within your nerve cells. Finally, and most relevant to this mom’s complaint, the vaccine is NOT 100% effective.

    When a parent chooses not to vaccinate her child, she needs to acknowledge that she is 1) taking a risk, albeit small, that her child will contract the disease, and 2) putting other people at risk. In this case, I believe the school is acting appropriately. No other child should be exposed to a preventable disease, and have to miss school, because of this mom’s choice. I don’t think it’s enough for her to just sign a waiver. If her unimmunized child were to contract chickenpox, she would certainly infect others–infants too young for the vaccine, for example–who otherwise would not have been at risk.

  148. Papilio October 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    @lollipoplover: Are you sure your comment was directed at me? Because I don’t see the connection…?

  149. Donna October 16, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    “That is completely different from declaring that it is something to be banned from society (which the 20-day suspension essentially does).”

    And this is absolutely NOT a suspension. It is my understanding that the child gets excused absences and all their work to complete at home. It is treated exactly as though they were home with the actual chicken pox, only they don’t have to be unbearably itchy for two weeks.

    Further, it is only removal from school. I believe that your child is still allowed out in society and is not forced to move to a chicken pox colony.

  150. Maggie October 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    At Rick: “Herd immunity is an unprovable myth.”

    When was the last time someone you know had Small Pox? Oh wait, it’s been eradicated worldwide. Because of widespread vaccination. That is “herd immunity”.

    Polio is considered eradicated in the US, but not worldwide. Which is why your unvaccinated kid is extremely unlikely to get polio. Unless you are over 50, you are unlikely to know anyone in your peer group who ever had polio. Why? Because of vaccines, and “herd immunity”.

    I support your right to make decisions for your kids. But don’t come up with un-truths to try to make your point. They don’t work.

  151. M October 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    I support people’s right to make health choices for their kids.

    Saying that, I support them, but don’t agree with not vaccinating. Having worked in a pediatricians office, I saw the bad outcomes of not vaccinating. Whooping cough permanently scarring a baby’s lungs, giving the child life-long health problems. Chicken pox bad enough to put kids in the hospital. Certain diseases can cause deafness, including meningitis, mumps, measles and chicken pox. Measles can cause brain damage.

    To me, vaccines are like seat belts. You use them to protect against the possibility of a bad situation happening. Vaccination is the same as if you drove with your child unbuckled in a car. In both cases, you would be responsibility for the damaging, and perhaps fatal, results.

  152. Norka October 16, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I am agnostic. I am also a liberal. I did not vaccinate my children for veracella. So, this choice did not come out of fear of some conspiracy theory, nor a belief that God will protect my children (or whatever the religious exemption means). I chose not to vaccinate for veracella because I feel a line needs to be drawn somewhere, albeit not a straight one. My friends and I ALL had the chicken pox as children. We all missed ONE week of school. None of us were hospitalized for it. None of us died from it. None of us suffered from long term consequences of it, other than a couple scars from where we could not resist over-scratching. This school is trying to shame this family for not vaccinating. Let the parents of each child who did not vaccinate for chicken pox decide if they are willing to expose their child. If it was me, I’d ask for a play date with the kid who had it so I could get this process taken care of naturally… But, alas, this is yet another example of shear ignorant hysteria.

  153. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Vaccines are not risk-free. And vaxes (esp. the chickenpox vax) don’t always work.

    Everyone needs to weigh the risks vs. benefits of every vaccine.

    And the analysis is different for each disease as well as for each child.

    We’re talking about chickenpox here. It’s a normal, mild childhood illness that (like every other mild concern) *rarely* becomes a serious problem. I am so horrified to see chickenpox actually compared to ebola. This is what happens when we put the government in charge of thinking for us.

    And I agree with the person who said that if any of you are not 100% up to date on their vaxes and boosters (including their own personal chickenpox shot), then they have no business talking about someone forcing it on their 5yo.

  154. Snow October 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    It saddens me to see some of these replies, but it does not surprise me. It’s depressing how naive some people are. I feel sad for them, but I feel even sadder for their children. Oh, and SKL, aren’t you the same person who gets upset when kids eat peanuts around your kids because your kids have allergies, or am I thinking of someone else? If you are the same person, your statement ‘I’m not going to quarantine my non-flu-vaxed kids for 20 days every time another kid at school has the flu, because a third kid at school might have a 90yo grandpa.’ is amazingly hypocritical. If you are not that person, I apologize.

    Here is a great article some of you might find interesting:

    I’m not going to debate about vaccinations here anymore because it’s getting boring and I have better things to do. I just really hope your kids never get a preventable illness that takes their life or even comes close to taking their life. I hope you never have to deal with that horror.

  155. Shari October 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I guess one question is, for chickenpox specifically, can vaccinated children still somehow transmit the disease to unvaccinated children? If not, and a high percentage are vaccinated, then we have a situation where a child has a low risk of contracting a fairly low risk disease. This doesn’t rise to my standard of excluding her for her own safety or the safety of others unless there are certain vulnerable kids who would become very ill if they got it. I thought chickenpox vaccine was still very much optional in most places.

    Since I was raised in the 70’s I would love to say it’s no big deal. We all had it. Nothing is that simple anymore. Think about school days lost. In the 70’s it was almost every kid in school x maybe 3 days out unless you caught it in summer. Now it’s 2 kids in the school out for 20 days each. Total days lost from school has gone way down!

  156. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Snow, my kid does not have allergies (other than to insect bites), and I have never commented about how anyone else should feed or otherwise manage their kids for my kids’ benefit.

  157. Stephanie October 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I know people who have immune compromised kids. I have no sympathy for someone who just doesn’t want to do vaccines when my son’s friend can be hospitalized for a cold, never mind how dangerous other illnesses are for him.

  158. Donna October 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    I admit that I might be more sympathetic to this mother if she didn’t sound like such a whiner in general. She cares enough about her religious convictions to not get vaccines, but is worried about what to tell her child and other people about them? She seems like a major Snowflake to me.

  159. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Shari, your calculation assumes there is only one time that a kid in the school comes down with chickenpox. Given that chickenpox is often contracted by vaccinated kids, it is likely to happen multiple times. And according to the rule implemented in the case of the OP, the non-vaccinated kid has to miss 20 days each time another kid (or adult) gets it. That’s a lot of days missed.

    If I was her mom, I’d find out who had the pox and go have a play date and be done with it.

  160. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I agree, “what do I tell my kid” sounds a bit weird to me.

    I’d say she has an exemption from attending school when anyone else has the chickenpox. 😛 Sounds like she is a SAHM, so might as well make the best of it. I could think of lots of things I could do with that time off.

  161. J.T. Wenting October 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    ” I don’t even know what to tell her as the reason she can’t go to school.”

    what about the truth: “I’m a religious nutcase who thinks God wants my children to die horribly from diseases that medical science can prevent so I didn’t let them vaccinate you against
    those diseases”.

    “Vaccinations should be a personal choice”

    and it is. With situations like this, your child being barred from company of others because she’s a likely vector for spreading disease, as a consequence.
    With personal choice come consequences…

  162. JKP October 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    As Julie pointed out, they don’t vaccinate against chicken pox in the UK. I think it’s interesting that all the scientists and doctors in two different countries can look at the same data and draw two different conclusions on recommending a vaccine.

    That just proves that vaccines aren’t as black and white as a people would like to believe. If two nations can come to two different decisions regarding a vaccine, why is it so hard to understand how different parents could likewise come to different decisions? Why should one person’s decision be forced on another? Get the vaccine, fine. Don’t get the vaccine, fine.

    All medical treatment needs INFORMED consent, including vaccines. There are risks to not getting the vaccine. There are also risks to getting the vaccine. Children have died and been permanently damaged by vaccines (and no, I’m not talking about the autism hype). There is a Vaccine Injury Fund to compensate victims of vaccine damage, and you can find the #’s of adverse reactions and deaths on the CDC site. The manufacturers of vaccines have been released from all liability, because otherwise they wouldn’t make them at all.

    If a child dies from a preventable illness, that’s a tragedy that society blames the parents for because the child wasn’t vaccinated. But if the child dies from the vaccine, that’s also a tragedy but one society is apparently ok with, even though it was equally preventable (by not getting the vaccine). Parents don’t have crystal balls. You can’t know whether your child will be one of the few who have a vaccine reaction and die. So all parents can do is weigh the risks for their individual child.

  163. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    My comments would be different if the illness being discussed were, say, measles.

    Would others’ comments be different if the exemption she got was only for chickenpox and was for reasons other than religion?

    My reasons for postponing some vaccines and refusing others were based on health considerations, not religion. But the end result is the same. I find the comments against this lady to be rather stinging.

  164. Robin October 16, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Vaccinations protect everyone including the people who cannot get them due to allergies and immune problems. If one parent CHOOSES not to protect their child (and yes, these diseases KILL people) then the person who cannot get the vaccine is put in more danger. If the choosing parent signs off then, when their child does contract the disease, the person who cannot get the vaccine is again out of school for 20+ days through no fault of their own. Vaccines are REQUIRED by law because they are the RIGHT thing to do. If you believe some diety will protect you then stay home and don’t complaine about it. Ask the diety to educate your child. Same for if you just choose not to vaccinate (believe me, your child will cry a lot more if they get the disease than the vaccine). I know I sound rude but I’m sick and tired of people being stupid. Science supports vaccine use.

  165. Donna October 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    I agree that I’d go make a playdate with the infected kid and get it over with in kindergarten, but this should still be a fairly rare occurrence. Chicken pox is not common today. My kid’s been in daycare/school for 8 years and has never had a kid in her school with chicken pox. It is likely to run its course this year and then never happen again.

  166. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    So since I am so stupid, someone explain to me how my kid being vaccinated stops an immune-compromised, non-vaccinated kid from being at risk when a *vaccinated* classmate gets chickenpox? It is pretty common for kids with the vaccine to get the pox anyway, and it’s still just as contagious whether a vaxed or non-vaxed kid gets it.

  167. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Donna, in my kids’ preschool/KG there were multiple cases of chickenpox over the 3 years they attended there. (My then-unvaxed kids never caught it and were never treated differently due to being unvaxed.) I was hoping they would catch it, but no dice.

    I don’t recall if there have been any cases in the school they now attend.

  168. SKL October 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I also don’t know any adults who haven’t had chickenpox, so I don’t know that it’s a major concern for the elderly. It will eventually be as the vaxed generations get older, though. Which is a con against the vax, in my opinion, but that’s not going to change now.

  169. Donna October 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    “My comments would be different if the illness being discussed were, say, measles.”

    But why is that? Do you realize that although measles was once more deadly, in the 30 years or so prior to the vaccine, the death rate was very low. Outside of a few odd spike years, measles was only responsible for 100-300 death a year during that time period. For several years the number of deaths came in at well under 100, like only 30 death in 1956.

    That is about the same amount as chickenpox. So why is measles a must vaccinate and chickenpox a minor illness?

    “Would others’ comments be different if the exemption she got was only for chickenpox and was for reasons other than religion?”

    Not mine. Regardless of reason, I think she has every right not to vaccinate, but must suffer the consequences of doing so. And in every case, I think she should own her decision and not whine about what to tell people.

  170. Claudia October 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    In the UK we don’t vaccinate against chicken pox, it’s more or less considered a rite of passage to get it, so I’m less bothered by this than by not vaccinating against more dangerous illnesses. I’m kind of assuming the parents in question may not vaccinate against those dangerous ones either, unless they just want to minimise vaccination and avoid where the illness isn’t dangerous.

  171. Margot October 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    At last. An actual risk. Forget the “freak” risk of kids being abducted when their parent turns their back in a shopping centre. Kids getting chicken pox (not nice) or measles or whooping cough (dangerous); these are the real risks. Babies die of whooping couch. Children can be permanently brain injured by measles. The fact that this doesn’t often happen, so feels like a “freak” incidence, is because governments have spent billions of dollars across the developed world making sure it doesn’t happen.
    So, no sympathy whatsoever for your reader. the school should exclude her child. She poses a heightened risk to the other children if she contracts chicken pox, because we all know that even the vaccination does not confer 100% immunity.
    In fact, public schools should be required to exclude unvaccinated children permanently, not just when there’s an outbreak. The Departments of Education across the world have a duty of care.
    And, I suspect that when the first bereaved parents of unvaccinated newborns instigate a class action against the anti-vaccination lobby and the Department of Education/child care centre or wherever else children congregate, then this issue might be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
    Can i be any clearer?

  172. Miss Laura October 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Why this old woman hopes you will vaccinate your baby:
    Every June we clean the cemetery where I visit the graves of Grandpa’s brothers who died of the influenza in April and October of 1918. Fletch was 48; O. P. was 39. Both left widows and children, and a grieving mother who lost two sons in one year to a disease now preventable.
    The wife of a friend was exposed to measles while pregnant and gave birth to a severely handicapped child.
    The child of a friend had encephalitis following chicken pox.
    Cousin John had polio in the ‘50s, before the vaccine. He walked with a limp, and when he was older he had a series of operations to make his legs the same length.
    A friend’s beautiful younger sister had her body twisted by polio when she was nine. Paralyzed from the waist down, she rode an electric wheelchair around her college campus.
    I have a smallpox vaccination scar, a tiny reminder that vaccinations can wipe out disease. Have you ever known anyone who had smallpox, who had a pockmarked face because he was the child of religious objectors to vaccination?
    The vaccinations you get for your baby will protect not only her but your pregnant friend, your cousin, your uncles, and the children of mothers who are too fearful or too ignorant to vaccinate their children. If a vaccine against Ebola becomes available, will you get it?

  173. Sonya October 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    You have made your choice and the school respected it – so why not respect theirs?
    You can easily have your child vaccinated and avoid the problem entirely, or move her to a school that has a different communicative disease policy.

    I am a little concerned that you think that chicken pox is harmless – it isn’t and can cause life long problems (the least concerning is shingles as an adult). One of the main reason people think vaccinateable diseases are harmless is that they have never seen the affects of these diseases personally – and you have historical vaccination to thank for that!

    Unfortunately, vaccination is only truly successful if 80% plus of the community is vaccinated – the school is well within it’s rights to protect students (and limit the spread through the school) by asking you to keep you (vaccinated) child home.

  174. Warren October 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    I am not anti vax, when it comes to killers and cripplers. But the chicken pox and flu do not even come close to the big ones. And we will continue to follow our doctor’s advice over that of idiots like you.

    We do not have to submit to a medical treatment we are advised against, just to keep you safe. Because in all reality, whether you get sick or die, is really not any of my business or responsibility. Or care for that matter.

    As to those saying vaccines should be mandatory……..when they come around with the vaccines to force them on us, they best check the gun registry, because I know a lot of people that would take up arms against it.

  175. HFB October 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    I did not read all the comments but it does seem that the school is ignorant of vaccines and Chix Pox. It’s likely a vaccinated child who got it, no? And other V children could get it too. Why the rush to judge that the “religiously accommodated” (?) child needs to be excused for the duration? That they may get the disease worse? The school should inform all parents of the sickness occurrence, let them know that they need watch for symptoms, and move on.

  176. MoonShadow October 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    I think that it’s the social responsibility of those who are ill (or their parents) to limit exposure to others as far as they are able, not the responsibility of the school to either punish those who may choose not to get vaccinated, nor make any such decision on their parents’ behalf.

    I know that if I’m sick, and know that I would be contagious; I don’t go to church, I don’t go to the mall, and I don’t dwell in public places if avoidable. Nor do I let my children do these things, regardless of how well they may feel, nor how important any particular event may be to them.

    For this reason alone, I think that the multi-year “perfect attendance” awards should include an investigation, because odds are against one child, much less all the children in a particular family, would never get sick; and *knowingly* sending a sick child to school is abuse.

  177. JJ October 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    What to tell your daughter? That our practice of not vaccinating you has put vulnerable populations in danger.

  178. Kenny Felder October 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    The problem here is the search for a universal answer. “Should vaccinations be required?” Well yes they should, for diseases that are as dangerous as polio. No they should not, for chicken pox. It’s easy to tell the difference if you ignore the stories (“Jimmy Jones died of chicken pox!”) and look instead at the numbers.

  179. KLY October 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    I am very disheartened to see just how much anti-science propaganda and willful ignorance is present here. I like to think that in this place, at least, there is a little more common sense and clear-thinking about true risk assessment and *facts*. I know, silly of me.

    I am immuno-compromised. Doesn’t matter if I’ve had vaccines or the disease, I am at risk, and at higher risk for potentially deadly complications from even “simple” childhood diseases. What worries me more, though, is that I am all too aware of just how many *children* are vulnerable in the same way. That doesn’t even include those too young for vaccines, who are most at risk for serious complications.

    Obviously, my friends and I who were around before the vaccines all survived our childhood illnesses, but there most certainly were those who did not. Most families I know have a story of at least one child who was lost at a young age to something now preventable. Of those of us still around, I have so many friends who actually have some hearing or vision lost because of one of these “harmless” diseases, and many who have or had ongoing lung problems, as well. It is only because of the success of vaccines in reducing the effects of these diseases that people have now become so complacent and spoiled that they have forgotten why it seemed so important to protect our children in the first place. My grandmother’s generation tends to see vaccines as a blessing and a miracle, for a good reason.

    We did a lot of things differently, and survived, when I was a kid. I made dozens of trips all over the US in the back of various vehicles, with nary a seatbelt in sight, much less a car seat or booster seat. That doesn’t mean I didn’t strap my own child into a safety tested seat, happily, when she was young. Free Range isn’t anti-safety or anti-common sense. The common sense part should mean that it isn’t anti-science, either.

    For all those people spewing the ridiculous propaganda lines about herd immunity being a myth and so forth, I seriously suggest that if you are going to make educated scientific choices and risk assessments, you actually learn How To Science. There are a lot of colleges and universities out there that offer free access to coursework, online. The anti-vax movement is huge on telling people to “educate themselves”, and I would suggest that people do exactly that, by *actually* educating themselves with the basics of how biology, immunology, and epidemiology work.

    As for people making the choice to not vaccinate? Their freedom to make that choice does not extend to putting others at risk who do not have the luxury of the protection they are turning down. Unvaccinated children become a contact point for the spread of a disease. Keeping them at home helps cut an outbreak off, and protects those who did not *choose* to be vulnerable. Choices have consequences, and being a part of society means you DO have a responsibility to not be a danger to others. I personally believe the *only* exemptions for public schools (paid for with public taxes, people) should be medical ones. Not “personal belief”. For those wishing to exercise their personal beliefs, there are private schools and homeschooling. You are not being denied an education, you are simply being told that *you* have to take responsibility for *your* choice and any inconveniences it brings. Some people wish to “protect” their children from a secular view of science and history; those people have the right to alternative schooling, but not to having public schools cater to them. If you choose to opt out of those rules put together for public health, then at the very least you *definitely* need to suck it up and keep your little petri dish home when there is a public health concern.

  180. JeffyJeff October 16, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Unvaccinated children are a danger to the community at large. They weaken the herd immunity of the community, making it more likely that another child (whether vaccinated or not) or, worse yet, a pregnant woman, elderly person, or someone with a weakened immune system may get chicken pox. This parent has already demonstrated their selfishness by not vaccinating their child, and they’ve been granted that right, but it does not follow that they also have the right to send their child to a known contaminated area, to send their sick child to school, to coat their child’s sandwich in chicken pox virus, or any number of other selfish acts that put the community at further risk.

  181. KLY October 16, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    One more thought:

    I see some of the biggest “Worst First” and “But What If?” thinking among those I know and run across who are anti-vax. Even when shown the numbers showing just how low the risk of a reaction to vaccines is, because it is not *zero* (though, ironically, neither is the risk of NOT DYING from those same diseases, including even the flu), the answer is always “But what if my child is that *one* it happens to?” It is the *same exact* answer given by those who argue “Why risk it?” and say they’d rather just keep their child safe by keeping an eye on them 24/7. This is not successful critical thinking or risk assessment. Unlike helicopter parenting, though, it actually puts *others* at risk.

  182. Louise October 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    Chickenpox not a serious disease? So wrong. If your child is not vaccinated and for some reason doesn’t get it as a child, he or she may get it as an adult. That’s what happened to me. I got chickenpox in 1997 from my three-year-old daughter who had a mild case. I was 36. My mom couldn’t remember if I’d ever had it as a child–evidently I had not. For my daughter it was easy, for me it was horrible. Besides the fever, and aches, my skin erupted with viciously itchy puss-filled pustules (the pox) on my legs, arms, torso, and especially my breasts, neck, and face. There were so many and they were so awful that I wore a scarf over my face and didn’t leave the house for weeks. I didn’t even let my husband look at me. Luckily there was only a little scarring, but to this day I have marks on my face.

  183. Flurry October 16, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    But Louise, it is not my responsibility nor my child’s responsibility to ensure that all 36-year-old women don’t get a bad case of chicken pox. And considering you got it from your own daughter in 1997 when the vaccine was available…who are you blaming?

  184. dmg October 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Putting aside the a parent’s decision to vaccinate or not, it seems pretty ridiculous to not allow a healthy child to come to school. The parents know the risk they are taking. Does the school even have the authority to make this request? Most school districts have regulations regarding student attendance and reasons for keeping your child home. If my child had no symptoms or fever, I would call the district superintendent and inquire if a school can tell me not to send my healthy child to school,especially if it is a public school.

  185. Andrea October 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    I don’t believe in vaccinations for my children, for where we live. We have clean water, air, food and very strong immune systems because we take very good care of our health. We don’t have compromised immune systems, so can handle (and even develop a stronger immune system by fighting these childhood diseases). If we lived in a polluted area with poor quality food (like eating a fast food diet and drinking soda/juice!) and questionable water quality, I would be more concerned. I did a lot of research and spoke with a lot of doctors before making the decision not to vax my daughters. I think there’s a greater responsibility, for parents who do not vax, to watch their child’s health. I would prefer that my daughter catch chickenpox (my siblings and I all had it) and heal from it. You can still get chickenpox even being vaccinated and many kids do. A pediatrician with a specialty in infectious diseases told me that the reason they vax is to protect from secondary infections like if you scratch your chickenpox sores and develop an infection, that can be worse than just having the chickenpox. I don’t believe in the herd immunity. Having said that, my older daughter is a big traveler and has now had all the vax and even some others like Yellow Fever vax! It’s her choice now and I respect that. Neither one of my two daughters has ever had any of the childhood diseases. They may very well have immunities to some of these diseases. You can test whether your blood has antibodies for certain diseases like rubella, etc. I think this mom should have the choice to send her child to school and not have to quarantine her at home.

  186. Kacey October 16, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    I haven’t commented on this site in a while, but I felt I had to comment here. This child is being kept out of school because she can catch chicken pox and continue spreading it. This is a problem because there are people who cannot get vaccinated. They rely on herd immunity to stay healthy. They are often the same people who face life threatening consequences from diseases that many children only find uncomfortable. Choosing not to vaccinate is not just a personal choice, it affects the entire community. The child should be held out of school and the mother should hold her tongue, choices have consequences. Quite frankly, I think she should go get her child vaccinated. I also think that unvaccinated children shouldn’t get to go to public schools. It’s a public health problem and there is no logical, scientific reason for it.

  187. Warren October 16, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Herd Immunity, the buzzword that people like to throw around. Unfortunately they are not willing to do what it takes to really insure the herd is immune. Everything from closing your borders, restricting global travel to killing off the old and weak that cannot get vaccinated. Until then herd immunity is just another piece of crap people can hide behind, and or preach about.

    A naturally built immunity to a virus is far superior to a vaccination. Vaccines are not a guarantee of immunity, actually far from what would be considered acceptable failures in any other business, or whatever.

    But you whiners would rather me take the weaker less effective route of building my kids immune system, to protect the herd. Hopefully protect, as stated before there is no guarantee the vaccine works. In other words, protect your sorry asses, by forsaking my kids health.

    Two words for that. Screw you!
    Let`s go back to natural selection. Then the herd will be healthy.

  188. JaneW October 16, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Some people who catch the chicken pox don’t get permanent immunity. In 1990, my aunt discovered she could catch it twice. She was horrified, as the rash appeared immediately after giving birth to my cousin.

    The cousin developed chicken pox a few days later, of course. Hospitalized for three weeks, near death. Chicken pox outcomes that severe are rare, of course, but nowadays they are so easily preventable.

    No, in the interests of public health and protecting the community’s elders and infants, the school has a moral obligation to exclude children whose parents are so thoughtless as to fail to vaccinate them.

  189. Jill October 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    We homeschool, and we vaccinate. Because we actually believe in and appreciate science. Please don’t homeschool if you don’t vaccinate. I don’t want myself or my kid around your infected kid, or your “religious” ignorance.

  190. SKL October 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Why isn’t the focus on immunizing people age 9 and up and keeping their boosters up to date? Those are the people at risk. Nobody is addressing this simple question.

    They are also conveniently ignoring the fact that it is common for vaccinated kids to get and spread chickenpox. Since they are not immune, they too should be kept home every time one kid in school catches the pox. The whole school should be shut down every time, if there is any logic in all of this fear-mongering.

    I do hope that they are at least forcing those kids who “can’t be immunized” to also stay home whenever anyone in the school gets sick.

  191. hineata October 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    I saw the headline and expected to be disgusted by another fruit-loop who won’t vaccinate against serious diseases (whooping cough, measles, polio etc.).

    I must confess, though, it never occurred to me (and I am very pro-vaccination) to vaccinate my kids against chickenpox. Chickenpox? Wow. I don’t even know if the vaccination is available here….

    Serious diseases are a real risk to the immuno-deficient, immuno-suppressed and pre-vaccination infants. El Sicko is certainly fed up with having to take ethryomyocin (disgusting taste) as a preventative when whooping cough is going round (caught by the non-vaccinated kids at her school). And she did get quite ill with chicken pox. I still can’t imagine there being a national campaign to vaccinate against chicken pox. It just doesn’t adversely affect enough people…..

    Can’t we just stick to vaccinating against problematic illnesses? Otherwise too many people are just going to consider vaccination a joke, and we’ll have even fewer socially responsible people vaccinating their kids against serious diseases.

  192. CrazyCatLady October 16, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    SKL, IS it common for vaccinated kids to get the chickenpox?
    I have “heard” from non-vaccinating friends on Facebook that whooping cough is more likely to be contracted by kids with the vaccination that by kids without. But…I am not sure of the facts on that one. Certainly vaccines do not last forever, and in the late 80s we had a 2 year old who had a mild case of the measles at the preschool I worked at.

    But chickenpox? My kids all had the vaccinations. Because as a kid, eating good, balanced homemade meals, lots of sun light, outside time, country living…I got every bug that came along. As did my mother when she was a kid. But my kids, who also seem to get everything, (we got swine flu as soon as school started – and we home school!) my kids have not gotten chicken pox. They probably were exposed to a friend’s little sister, but they didn’t get it. And a quarter of the kids in their classes have not gotten chicken pox, like when I was at the preschool.

    I remember when I was a kid, and when my siblings were in school….so many kids were out every year the first few grades because of chicken pox. And with my own kids…I know of exactly 1 child who had the pox as mentioned above. Even after switching to a charter homeschooling type of school, I haven’t heard of any kids being sick with chicken pox.

    I have heard of people in some of my groups on FB looking for pox parties because they want to get it over with while the kids are young…but they haven’t had any luck. I think that one kid was thought to have had it last year, but the pox party did not produce any results which makes me wonder if it really was chickenpox.

  193. hineata October 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    @SKL – I’m not sure that you’d have to force those that can’t be vaccinated to stay home, if the illness was serious. Personally we just make the call dependent on the illness concerned. Some can be pre-medicated against (whooping cough) some I think I’d just keep the deficient kid home.

    Not sure about others, but in El Sicko’s case it’s not that she can’t be vaccinated (she was vaccinated against everything on the NZ roster before diagnosis) it’s just that vaccination is a waste of time. The immune-deficient don’t have many (usually not any) memory cells for long-term immunity. That’s her problem, not the rest of the world’s – however, because sufficient numbers being vaccinated would effectively wipe out serious diseases for everyone over a generation or two, I still wish everyone able would be vaccinated. Too much nonsense ‘science’ out there is preventing otherwise rational people from doing the socially responsible thing and vaccinating….

  194. hineata October 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    @Crazy Cat Lady – none of my business of course, but I was wondering if you chose to get your’s looked at for PID? We had a conference a couple of months back and I was thinking of them…some of the ‘gastro’ kids sounded similar to some of the stuff you’ve described :-). Hope they are getting better as they get older, though….

  195. Puzzled October 16, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Since vaccines don’t last forever, being vaccinated as a child increases the risk of contracting the disease as an adult.

    That aside, I don’t argue with herd immunity, but wish we could come up with a term for it that doesn’t imply that we’re a bunch of cattle.

    As for what to say to your daughter, “You don’t have to go to school for 20 days! Let’s go to the zoo.”

  196. CrazyCatLady October 16, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    I do have homeschooling friends who don’t vaccinate. And..they mostly are not doing it because they don’t want to take the risk (supposedly have looked at the scienc), have egg allergy, or have immune compromised kids and it is not recommended.

    Personally, I feel that mostly, if we get our shots on time, we will be protected, or if we do get something, we will get it milder than if not vaccinated. I don’t purposely expose my kids to theirs when we or they are sick. I have helped them understand what whooping cough sounds like (didn’t have it.) But sure…when everyone seems well, we play together. We don’t get the nasal flu vaccination and then go play with the girl on chemo as that might effect her. But yes, my son with asthma needs his flu shot so that he doesn’t end up in the hospital too.

    Either the vaccinations will work, and we are protected…or they won’t and we will get it but hopefully more mild. But I will have done what I can to keep my kids safe. Other people will do what they think is best for their families given their own medical histories.

  197. Kathy October 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    I had chickenpox as a child, and contracted shingles while I was pregnant. Baby was not affected, but the pain associated with the shingles on only a small patch on my thigh was worse than childbirth. I couldn’t sit, and couldn’t stand as it affects the nerves in your leg. My interpretation of this post was a whiny complaint that the school doesn’t support her. May not have been meant that way. I chose to vaccinate because I don’t believe all the non medical crap that is sent out to the public. People are easily mislead and don’t read up enough on both sides. What do you tell your child? Tell her she hasn’t had a ‘needle’ and there is a child at school who has a disease that although not terminal can be ver painful. Vaccinated children can still catch it, but symptoms will not be as severe or painful. You made a choice, and if you don’t mind your child being at a higher risk of catching a highly infectious disease tell the school ( and sign something) that you will not hold them responsible. More concerning is what happens when someone contracts measles? A vaccinated child will show symptoms but it is not dangerous. An unvaccinated child can die.

  198. Alicia October 17, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    If you want to choose to expose your kids to illnesses, fine, but don’t expect schools being willing to take that chance. Parents who won’t vaccinate their children for non-medical reasons are also typically the ones who will blame others for their kids having problems when they get sick. Why should schools face that sort of crazy?

  199. LisaS October 17, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    It’s a great concept that vaccinations are personal choice and that it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Fact is that it does because some people can’t be immunized and some people don’t develop titers even when immunized. Herd immunity is a good thing. I actually had my children immunized for chickenpox because their father hasn’t had it, and it is often deadly for adults. They get flu vaccines every year because I can’t get one, and for the protection of elderly relatives and neighbors.

    Religious/philosophical reasoning is great, but as I told my stepbrother after he had rotten tomatoes thrown at him on mission, sometimes great faith requires great tests.

  200. Jennifer M October 17, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Wow, I can’t believe the very Un-American attitude of people who act like they want to take away the rights of parents who choose, for a variety of reasons, to NOT vaccinate their children. Since when is it American to force people to inject their children with chemical concoctions that are in no way safe for the human body, especially babies & small children…no one even mentions the adverse reactions, potential harm, & real problems inherent in vaccines. Some people would rather not inject mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, animal DNA/viruses, etc. into their offspring. Don’t claim lack of knowledge about any of this, or that it isn’t true, because a little research will prove otherwise. And stop trying to take away the rights, or alienate those who have different beliefs about this – are you doing ALL you can every day to protect YOUR kids from every potential danger in the world? What food & beverages do you feed them or allow them to consume, with ingredients that can cause illness & disease? How about dangers from EMFs with the use of technologies that can cause cancers over time? Sports that can cause injury/death… illegal drugs/alcohol/STD’s. The list goes on. So don’t act like unvaccinated children are the problem on this earth. Your kids are at risk daily, from a vast onslaught of risks.

  201. Kingsley October 17, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    One thing I’d like to clarify here… lots of people wonder why chickn pox vaccine is so weak. Couldn’t they have made a better one?

    The answer is yes, easily. You can cut the number of people who fail to develop effective immunity in half… and double the number of people who develop vaccine side effects at the same time.

    The strength of a prophylactic vaccine is a careful judgement call. You want to minimize the total amount of illness, and in a well-protected population, you can use weak vaccines with minimal side effects.

    All you need to do is keep the average number of additional people that one sick person will infect (the “reproduction number’) well below 1. Then any isolated cases will quickly peter out and not become an epidemic.

    The goal of a mass vaccination program is to achieve that with as few side effects as possible.

    But if some people selfishly don’t get the weak vaccine, then everyone else has to take a stronger (more side effects) vaccine to keep the reproduction number low.

    For a current example, consider the two polio vaccines in use worldwide. In countries without endemic polio, a dead-virus (Sabin) injectable vaccine is used. It has very few side effects, but the immunity generated is not as strong as the alternative. If your chances of being exposed to polio are low, then this vaccine minimizes your total risk of getting sick.

    In countries with endemic polio, people are given the live-virus (Salk) oral polio vaccine. It produces a far stronger immunity, but can actually cause polio in a few people per million.

    If you’re likely to be exposed to polio, this vaccine is a much better bet. It’ll protect you very well, so your total chance of developing polio is much lower than if you got the dead vaccine.

  202. hineata October 17, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    @Jennifer M – I’m not an American, but surely even Americans have to occasionally do things for the common good? Individual rights are all well and good, but in listening to nonsense ‘science’ as you appear to be doing, you are impinging on the general rights of your fellow countrymen to enjoy a society relatively free of serious infectious diseases.

  203. hineata October 17, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    A general question, too. Given that the bulk of Americans (all Americans?) need health insurance, what do insurers say about vaccination? Would you be covered if your non-immunised child contracted one of the vaccinated-for diseases?

  204. Donna October 17, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    The reputable websites state that the chicken pox vaccine has about a 90% effectiveness rate for completely preventing the disease and a 100% effectiveness for preventing moderate to severe cases. The CDC claims the effectiveness at 98% once both shots are given. In fact, most vaccinated kids who do get chicken pox do so before the second shot is given prior to the start of school.

    So no, there are not widespread outbreaks among the vaccinated and the vast majority of vaccinated children never get the disease. When it does happen, it tends to be in daycares and preschools and not during formal schooling.

    Now I would not be surprised if, once the vaccinated children start reaching college in large numbers, we have widespread outbreaks on college campuses with the realization that you need a booster at 18. This is exactly what happened with the measles vaccine in the 90s. But we will not know that for several years.

    I still haven’t gotten answer as to why measles is “oh horrors, must vaccinate” and chickenpox is no big deal when the pre-vaccine death rate and hospitalization rate are extremely similar for the two diseases. My guess is that the only real answer is that the measles vaccine has existed for our entire lives (and pre-dates the anti-vax craze) and the chickenpox vaccine is new.

  205. E October 17, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    HFB — it would help to read the comments, it’s not “the school”, it’s the state regulations. I quickly checked my own state Health dept website and found the exact same thing. Exemptions are allowed, but with the caveat that if an outbreak occurs, your child will have to stay home from school.

  206. KLY October 17, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Someone asked why there wasn’t an emphasis on people getting their boosters. There is! It is a HUGE area of education and encouragement in groups, like the ones I am active with, that work on vaccine advocacy. Adults need boosters for certain things, too! Like whooping cough. This helps keep the most vulnerable members of the populations (very young infants, for instance) safe. Everyone should discuss with their doctors which boosters they should be getting and keep up to date.

    So much of what I am seeing here is coming from a place of Privilege that people don’t even seem to be aware of. The amount of callousness about those not lucky enough to have a healthy immune system, or those who have other health issues, is a little shocking. So is the amount of misinformation and misunderstanding about how different diseases can and do affect people. No, being exposed to the common cold is not the same as being exposed to chicken pox, measles, or even the actual influenza virus (which is different from the severe colds usually mistaken for having “the flu”). It also seems that people are very unaware of just how hard parents of those children with immune/health issues, and those adults with them, already have to work to try to live a somewhat normal life while staying safe. Yes, compromised children are also kept home during outbreaks. Yes, individuals with health issues and vulnerability already go out of their way to take extra precautions and safety measures, and to avoid situations where the risk is too high. They do this for something they have no control or choice about. To ask them to live with more risk and inconvenience to cater to those who DO have a choice is the height of self-centered entitlement.

    Oh… and for those who want to rattle off a bunch of scary-sounding chemical ingredients, you should really do some research on what those chemicals actually *are*, what they *mean*, how *much* is in there, and how many of them are actually present in 100% natural, organic foods (like apples and pears) or produced naturally by our own bodies every day.

    For instance, formaldehyde. (
    “So what’s the most a child might get in a single office visit? That would probably be at their 6 month visit (when they are, on average, 16.5lbs or 7.5kg) with HepB, DTaP, IPV and flu, for a total of 307.5μg. That is about 160 times less than the total amount their body naturally produces every single day*. Compare that to the 428.4-1,516.4μg of formaldehyde in a single apple.

    Now, some might try to claim that the formaldehyde in vaccines is different from the formaldehyde in your body, but they are wrong. Formaldehyde, whether it is in a vaccine or your body, consists of two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom bound to a carbon atom. The chemical structure is the same.”

    Education, people. It is a good thing. Not fear mongering and what-ifs and ridiculous conspiracy nonsense. Combined with a little compassion, we might actually make this society into something worthwhile.

  207. Nicholas October 17, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I’m not really with you on this one. Mainly because we, in America and England especially, have a serious problem with vaccination rates even with much more deadly diseases. And we’ve seen resurgences over the past decade that have led to thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of hospital visits. FRP is based around rational decision making, and the death, and hospitalization, rates definitely make these a statistically valid concern…especially as they are about the easiest and cheapest health complications to address.

    However, even in this case see this link: 10k hospitalizations per year gives each of us approximately a 1% statistical chance of having someone in our immediate family hospitalized for this in our lifetime (assuming standard US family sizes). This isn’t a super high risk, but again it comes down to cost/benefit ratio.

    On the economic side, Chicken Pox is highly infectious, and a dip in herd immunity could lead to an entire classroom being infected. Given the current helicopter parenting climate we can reasonably expect that every child’s parents will be pressured into taking time off work to care for their child.

    And on to the ethical argument. Why should the children and/or parents mentioned above have to suffer because another parent refuses to get a free poke in the arm? This seems much like an argument of “It’s a free country and it’s MY car, so I should be able to drive with my eyes closed if I want.” We make a distinction between personal freedoms, and choices that affect others. And socially we make a distinction between hard choices that affect others, and really easy choices that people make irrationally (the driving example, or vaccinations). Granted, there is a lot of bad information out there, but in the age of the internet is ignorance really a valid excuse for anything anymore?

    And a final point on the ethical side. Children are not our property. We are, at best, stewards of their lives. When a child is suffering because of poor, irrational decision making of a parent, we fall into a moral grey area. I understand this is exactly the justification we see on the helicopter parenting side, but on the other hand we can’t simply ignore any and all bad parenting decisions; what if the child is being locked in a basement and physically abused. The line needs to be drawn somewhere, and I think this issue is near that line. It’s far less harmful than the physical abuse example, but it’s also far easier and cheaper to fix.

  208. CrazyCatLady October 17, 2014 at 10:30 am #


    “@Crazy Cat Lady – none of my business of course, but I was wondering if you chose to get your’s looked at for PID? ”

    Can you tell me what PID stands for? I am pretty sure the boys don’t have pelvic inflammatory disease. 🙂

    But yes, as my kids build up their immunity by being sick, they are also getting sick less each year. As I did. It seems to level out after about 4th grade, unless they do like I did and work at a preschool in college…I was so sick the first two years…after that, I had built up my immunity again. I think we have had Noro twice…the second time around was no wheres near as bad as the first…
    But immunity for it doesn’t last very long, as I assume would be the case with a lot of childhood sickness.

  209. Neil M. October 17, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    “This is unfortunately an extremist view – so everyone should be forced to vaccinate even if it harms, injures or kills some children – again as long as your child isn’t one of those unlucky “few” so now choosing not to vaccinate would be a crime? To keep us all safe? Enjoy your propaganda kool aid.”

    Can you cite mainstream scientific evidence that vaccinations are significantly dangerous to human beings? If not, I’ll content myself with my “extremism” on ensuring that diseases like smallpox and polio don’t come back to say howdy because some parent thinks a gluten-free diet will prevent them.

  210. Surani October 17, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Frankly, I’m surprised and happy to see so many people here understand the importance of vaccines. I love this group but sometimes a minority tend to fall into the fallacy of “If people disagree with me it proves I have The Truth.”

    I did not get the chicken pox vaccine when I was little (I’m 31) and I did get sick and survived fine, but I do agree that the school cannot start judging which vaccines are and are not “optional.” That is for a medical board to decide and the parent should take the fight there.

    Two points others have made that I think are WONDERFUL:

    1) Yes, the school SHOULD be providing homebound student services (worksheets, reading assignments, whatever) so this girl isn’t behind when she comes back. I think THAT is the fight the anti-vax mother needs to take on.

    2) Why isn’t this mother taking her child over to the sick child’s house for a pox party? If that’s the good ol’ fashioned way of dealing with childhood sicknesses (because chicken pox is much more dangerous if you get it as an adult) then use this time to get it over with! If the mother wants her child to neither be vaccinated nor get the disease, then, well…

    I sincerely hope this mother is only against the chicken pox vaccine and not all vaccines. The anti-all-vax crowd’s lack of understanding of basic science (my mother’s cousin’s roommate heard someone say that…) and obligations to our community is staggering. Isn’t FRK all about building a community instead of hiding in our own little houses?

  211. SKL October 17, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I remain of the firm belief that it is better for most kids to get the pox between ages 2 and 8 than to get the vax prior to age 9.

    My kids got the vax at age 5 due to pressure, not because I believe it is better for them, for me, or for anyone else in this country.

    Also. If your kid is immune compromised, my kid’s chickenpox vax status is the least of your worries. My sister’s premature kid was not allowed out except to go to the doctor for the first 2+ years of her life. My sister doesn’t blame this on everyone else’s vax status or demand that the whole world change their ways so her kid doesn’t have to deal with her issues.

  212. SKL October 17, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Donna: I agree that Measles risk is also blown out of proportion, and I’ve made that argument before. It is more severe than chickenpox. But I would still rather have natural immunity than fake immunity that wears off as we get older and more vulnerable to all illnesses. Also, even the natural (partial) immunity I was born with (because my mom had measles as a kid) isn’t there for kids of the younger generations. I question whether the vaccine policy for measles has been right all along, but at this point I think there is no going back. I would like to see it not happen that way for chickenpox, which is a much more benign illness. But it looks like it’s already too late for that (in the USA anyway) too.

  213. E October 17, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    I’m puzzled by all the 1st person accounts, as if that is someone reflective of the complete public health risk and statistics. Despite the (apparent) mistrust there is for everything and anything the govt or schools do, they aren’t targeting an un-immunized child because they get a charge out of it, it’s based on the best as deemed by people who are given the responsibility to minimize infectious diseases.

    This is public health policy. If you don’t like it, then either start working with state govt to change that, or select a schooling choice that more closely reflect your specific desires.

  214. SKL October 17, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    And Donna: I don’t know how to interpret the stats on how effective the chickenpox vax is. After all, nonvaxed kids hardly get it any more either, even if their parents want them to.

    If the vax is 90% effective, does that mean that 10% of vaxed kids are just as likely to catch it as nonvaxed kids? That’s kind of a lot. I realize the disease will then be milder for the vaxed child, but hat does not change the risk that the vaxed child will pass it to a fragile, immune-compromised child. The public health argument is that even if I’m OK with my kid getting chickenpox, I should get the vax to protect high-risk kids. But the reality is that high-risk kids are still at risk, not only of the tiny chance of my kid giving them chickenpox, but of every other illness that vaxes haven’t wiped out. In short, people with at-risk kids need to do what they need to do. I’m sorry for them but I can’t really change that reality for them.

    And again, I refuse to ignore the *fact* that vaccines have risks. The CDC admits some of them, even as they push the vaxes. I’ve also seen it with my own eyes. It is not extremism or hype. It is a relevant factor to weigh in the pros/cons analysis of each vax for each child.

  215. Warren October 17, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Considering that even vaccinated kids can still get the chicken pox, the the school has a public obligation to send every student home for the 20 days, not just those who have made the smart choice to not vaccinate. Or the world can stop being such a self righteous and paranoid place.

  216. E October 17, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    *I really shouldn’t post on here when I’m in a rush…corrected post:*

    I’m puzzled by all the 1st person accounts, as if that is somehow reflective of the complete public health risk and statistics. Despite the (apparent) mistrust there is for everything and anything the govt or schools do, they aren’t targeting an un-immunized child because they get a charge out of it, it’s based on the best approach as determined by people who are given the responsibility to minimize infectious diseases.

    Personally, I don’t really care what a random person “thinks” about how risk or bad or not a given infectious disease is. The track record is pretty good — something that’s been mentioned here countless times.

    This is public health policy. If you don’t like it, then either start working with state govt to change that, or select a schooling choice that more closely reflects your specific desires.

  217. E October 17, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    @Warren – nope they don’t. It’s a public health policy based on science and statistics, not what random parents think is best.

  218. SKL October 17, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    The policy to force kids who aren’t sick to stay home for 20 days over every chickenpox “outbreak” (since when is 1 sick kid an outbreak) seems more to me like a way of forcing parents to do what the CDC says, regardless of whether it improves overall community health or not.

    The government has been wrong at times. So has the medical consensus in this country. The attitude that we can just stop thinking for ourselves once government sets a policy is scary and foolish.

  219. SKL October 17, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Am I the only US citizen who found the comments of non-US readers really important? How come chickenpox in the US is a fear-inducing crisis when the same chickenpox everywhere else is simply an inconvenience to deal with? I am certain that the scientists across the pond have as much intelligence and information as ours have here.

  220. E October 17, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    @SKL – so your stance is that the CDC does not make policy that “improves overall community health”? Have you looked up the statistics related to Chicken Pox rates, hospitalizations, and deaths?

    So, you are willing to trust the govts of other nations, but not the United States? I mean, sure, that’s a choice, but that’s just a choice. Do you have any scientific data that indicates on or the other is correct or more correct? Do you know what these other countries might do in the future? Must every country on earth have to institute the same health policy at the exact same time?

    It just seems random to say “hey some other countries don’t do this, so their population is better/safer than ours” with literally no substance beyond that.

  221. E October 17, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    BTW — I see or sense no “fear inducing crisis” anywhere in here.

    It’s just public health policy based on science and statistics.

  222. E October 17, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I imagine if you don’t trust the CDC, this will mean nothing to you, but here it is anyway.

  223. Jenny Islander October 17, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    The local policy is very simple: Unless a doctor says it’s not a good idea for you to be vaccinated, no shots, no school. It also applies to homeschool students who are registered through the district, because they have the right to use school facilities for special tutoring, etc. That right comes with the responsibility to protect those who can’t be vaccinated.

    I don’t know anybody who had chicken pox so severe that they required hospitalization, but I understand that this has happened. Since the complications are potentially encephalitis and death, I agree with the vaccination.

  224. Jenna October 17, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    This child should NOT EVER be allowed in school. I respect her choice to not vaccinate, and do not think Chicken Pox is particularly dangerous. But I assume she has also not been inoculated against Pertussis, Mumps, Diphtheria and Rubella. That makes this child dangerous to others. A pregnant staff member who’s fetus contracts German Measles and is damaged by this child. She can become infected by whooping cough, which has been resurgent and is deadly, especially to those with compromised immunity or pulmonary conditions.
    She certainly has the right to observe the tenets of her religion, but not to insist greater society bear the risks of that freedom. We all have a second amendment right to bear arms, but not in an elementary school. It is not “free-range” to fail to act to responsibly to avoid preventable disease in children. A child does not get a sense of self-worth, independence, or any other adventure benefit from the measles.

    f a mother is willing to expose her kid to such risk, she must OWN it. Don’t force others who are not, especially those with fragile health systems, to take that on. If her religion required her to smear peanut butter all over herself, she also would not be welcome in the classroom. I think not vaccinating is a ridiculous a creed. But if it’s your deal, fine! Roll around and the Skippy and stay in your own damn house!

  225. SKL October 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    E, that is not what I said at all. I have done plenty of research on chickenpox and the vax. I came to my conclusions based on my own research. The fact that other developed countries agree with my conclusion proves that I am not an extremist lunatic.

    People are so black and white about this, at least in the US. The fact that what we consider an unquestionable fact is not even a consideration in foreign countries should give us some pause, yes. Look at the comments above, people saying very extreme negative things about people who choose not to do the chickenpox vax. That only makes sense if those people have been convinced that chickenpox is a completely unacceptable risk in our society. How can people be so adamant when they know that this isn’t even on the radar of people just like us across the pond? You can blow off the US minority opinion by calling us names, but can you really do that to the whole rest of the world? The US CDC policy is not only the minority opinion globally; it’s also a departure from our own historical policy and the way the world has always worked.

    The numbers of people who were hospitalized over chickenpox etc – how many of those people had other health issues and would have been hospitalized just as fast over a runny nose? And how much of that risk could be managed by having people over age 9 get the vax *if* they have not already had the pox? And what about the # of people who are going to get the pox at an older, riskier age BECAUSE of the popularity of the chickenpox vaccine? I guarantee you will see the numbers of serious cases in older people increase because they didn’t have a chance to get natural immunity and their artificial immunity (if they have it) will not be maintained.

  226. E October 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    @SKL, I presume you are not an immunologist, researcher, or Dr. If you are, I missed you saying that. That’s why I linked to statistics..because unless you think they are fabricated, the impact of the vax is somewhat clear right?

    The numbers of people who were hospitalized over chickenpox etc – how many of those people had other health issues and would have been hospitalized just as fast over a runny nose? And how much of that risk could be managed by having people over age 9 get the vax *if* they have not already had the pox? And what about the # of people who are going to get the pox at an older, riskier age BECAUSE of the popularity of the chickenpox vaccine? I guarantee you will see the numbers of serious cases in older people increase because they didn’t have a chance to get natural immunity and their artificial immunity (if they have it) will not be maintained.

    I’m sorry I just can’t understand your take on hospitalizations? They have gone down. Do hospitals actually hospitalize runny noses? Did they ever hospitalize non serious Chicken Pox cases? I’m not following you here at all.

    As far as the older people with Chicken Pox. I guess I will have to wait for your “guarantee”. I would ask how you know this as compared to all the other infectious diseases we are immunized for, but I’m not really interested.

    Keep the kid home for 20 days. End of story. Get over it — or get them infected with it and never worry about it again. I mean, if they don’t immunize, they expected to get the illness naturally anyway right?

  227. SKL October 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    E, right, you do not understand. People who have had serious problems over chickenpox were either older than 9 or had a lot of other problems to begin with. Chickenpox is not dangerous to young kids. Some rare young kids are very fragile. You don’t fix a medically fragile child’s problems by outlawing mild childhood illnesses for the whole population.

    They don’t break down the hospitalization and death numbers by age. I really want to know how many otherwise healthy kids between age 2 and 8 have died of chickenpox each year since, say, 1900. The fact is that this number will be extremely low.

    Why isn’t the policy to vax kids at age 9 if they haven’t gotten the pox yet? That would guarantee a stronger lifelong immunity from the pox for most people over age 9, at a relatively small risk/cost.

    Of course parents who prefer to not let their kids get the pox could always opt for an earlier vax, but there is no good reason for it to be mandatory before age 9.

    I’ve heard it said somewhere that the real reason for the mandatory policy is that they don’t want people missing work to take care of their sick kids. If true, that doesn’t justify forcing exempted kids to be removed from school when someone else is sick.

  228. lollipoplover October 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    “Am I the only US citizen who found the comments of non-US readers really important? How come chickenpox in the US is a fear-inducing crisis when the same chickenpox everywhere else is simply an inconvenience to deal with?”

    No, the non-US comments were fascinating. What is still a common childhood illness in some countries have been nearly completely eradicated here in my part of the US. We only had one outbreak in the 15 years I’ve been here that was contained because of the required quarantine (such as the one in the post) that stopped this highly contagious disease from spreading.
    I don’t want to hear about outbreaks.
    Stay home when you’re sick or have been exposed and were told to do so. Please?

  229. Agammamon October 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    “how much does a parent owe the community, and how much autonomy does the community owe the parent?”

    I don’t think this is even an issue here – she made a *decision* and now needs to live with the consequences.

    She didn’t want her kid vaccinated – stupid decision, but hers to make – and there are consequences to that. She’s lucky the kid was allowed to attend school in the first place.

    She doesn’t want to homeschool, she doesn’t know what to tell people about why her kid isn’t in school – all those ‘problems’ have an easy solution, vaccination.

    What she really wants is unconditional accommodation for here whims. She’s free to choose how to parent – the rest of us are free to not associate with her family when she makes decisions that we feel put our own at risk.

  230. lollipoplover October 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    “Why isn’t this mother taking her child over to the sick child’s house for a pox party?”

    Pox party?
    Is that like a poison ivy party?
    At a poison ivy party, have guests roll around in mounds of it. Spread poison ivy on your face, in your ears, private parts- be creative! Get as itchy and pussy as possible.
    What fun!

  231. CrazyCatLady October 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    SKL, as I understand it, most of the hospitalizations are NOT due to the chickpox, but rather due to the complications. Little kids are notorious for not listening to the “Don’t scratch that!” They are also notorious for things like digging in their butt crack and then sticking their finger up their nose. Which if they then scratch the oozing pox…infection is likely.

    And, I WILL say that not having people miss work to care for their kids is a boon to the economy and somewhat helpful for the schools. But, probably the people who think this way are also people who can’t afford to miss work because they don’t have sick days. Vaccinations are a big help to those families. Families rich enough to be able to afford to stay home anyhow…not a big deal.

  232. Donna October 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    “People who have had serious problems over chickenpox were either older than 9 or had a lot of other problems to begin with.”

    That is not true at all. The vast majority of people hospitalized for chicken pox were healthy prior to getting chicken pox. While immune suppressed people have a higher likelihood of serious complications, the highest concentrations with chicken pox complications happen in the general public because that is where the largest number of sufferers is. It is like downs syndrome. While the risk of down syndrome per birth goes up dramatically at 40, the vast majority of down syndrome babies are born to women under 40 because the largest number of babies are born to women under 40.

    “They don’t break down the hospitalization and death numbers by age. I really want to know how many otherwise healthy kids between age 2 and 8 have died of chickenpox each year since, say, 1900. The fact is that this number will be extremely low.”

    Huh? You have absolutely no idea what the numbers are but insist that it is somehow a FACT that the number will be extremely low. How exactly does that work?

  233. Mandy October 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    I had chicken pox as a 13-year-old, and I was severely ill. My friend had it in college, and was nearly hospitalized. My grandfather had it in middle-age and was also severely ill. Shingles is no joke. It can often cause neuralgia, which is permanent and very painful. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a common cause of suicide in the elderly.

  234. Marni October 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Want to practice 19th century medicine? Expect 19th century results. That includes quarantine in the case of outbreaks.

  235. Donna October 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    SKL – You seem to miss the whole point of getting the kids out of school. It is to shorten the outbreak – keep it to a couple kids. I distinctly remember chicken pox outbreaks going on for months and months when I was a kid. There were definitely school years where nobody got it, but once one person got it, there was pretty much someone out with it for the rest of the year.

    I assume that you understand that it isn’t only the original poxy kid who is contagious, but everyone who catches it from them. Johnny gives it to Susie who gives it to Janie who gives it to Sam. And with an up to 21 day incubation period, this goes on for months.

    If Johnny gets it and you kick all the kids out of school who are most likely to spread the disease (those without vaccines), the outbreak has a greater chance of stopping quickly. The only person who will spread the disease is Johnny. Susie will likely still get it, but, having been sent home as soon as Johnny showed symptoms, she is out of school before she is contagious, so Janie and Sam are never even exposed.

    This helps the immune suppressed, both in far fewer opportunities to be exposed, but also in time lost from school. The immune suppressed may have to leave school during the outbreak as well, but if you cut the outbreak down to just Johnny everyone is back in school in 21 days and not out for 6 months.

  236. Tamara October 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Neil M – do you honestly believe that no one ever is harmed by vaccines? You ask for “scientific mainstream evidence” as proof. At least I understand where your facts come from. Of course drugs have side effects – and a vaccine is just another drug. And sometimes people have those things called “side effects” that are listed in the tiniest print on the package – in abbreviated form so you have to find the manufacturer’s website for the full version – and people actually do die. It’s maybe rare, maybe inevitable but it doesn’t matter – no one should be forced to take it is my main argument and for anyone to assume what another HAS to do is unjust. You don’t know my family history or current state of health. One size does not fit all, but it’s too inconvenient and expensive to treat each person as an individual.

    Not a vaccine, but again another drug – DES or Diethylstilbestrol , a synthetic hormone given to women from 1940-1971 to prevent miscarriage. It actually was found to have no effectiveness in preventing miscarriage and it did actually cause cancer. Which leads to death in some cases. So there is one simple clear cut example of science and mainstream medicine being wrong. Anyone can google it. hormones are used in the production of vaccines. And we are really still in the “long term” part of finding any long term effects of some vaccines.

    Also, as an aside, as I was researching what is actually in vaccines, including the non medicinal ingredients, one ingredient, bovine cow serum, make these vaccines, including MMR, unethical for a vegan or vegetarian. There must be other vegetarians or vegans on this board – has this been something you take into consideration when deciding on vaccines? This could be another reason for an exemption from vaccines that is not for religious reasons. I wish the author of the letter could provide more information because she is really only being represented in this discussion by pieces of information.

  237. Neil M October 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm #



    Yes, I do ask, and no one here has delivered such proof. And by “proof”, I mean an established, mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific source, not an argument from personal assertion, which is all I’m getting so far. If this proof is in such abundance, well, you shouldn’t have any problem pointing me to it via a URL, right?

  238. Puzzled October 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    1) Yes, the school SHOULD be providing homebound student services (worksheets, reading assignments, whatever) so this girl isn’t behind when she comes back. I think THAT is the fight the anti-vax mother needs to take on.

    I disagree. In fact, I also like the suggestion to now allow the non-vaccinated child in school. Let her go explore, swing from trees…anything but school. It defeats this great side-effect to provide work at home.

  239. SKL October 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    People are making it sound like every classroom contains at least one kid who is going to die if exposed to a germ.

    Such fragile children are rare. Why do some of you want to act like the exception is the rule?

    So I found some data and it seems that prior to vaxes, in the 5-9 age group, 16 kids per year (out of roughly 20 million kids that age) died from varicella. That is a reason to stick every single kid in the USA 2x and prevent all of them from developing natural immunity that will help them when they are older? And to punish and isolate the ones whose parents don’t play along, and call people rotten names every time the topic comes up?

    How does 16 kids per year compare to all the other kid dangers? If we need to ban chickenpox then we must certainly ban motor vehicle travel and swimming pools, and the flu vax needs to be made mandatory for everyone on the planet. That would be a start. Any kid who coughs or produces snot or has been in school with a snotty kid needs to be kept home for 20 days, since flu and pneumonia cause over 100 child deaths per year in the USA. Oh heck, why not just ban schools, since it isn’t possible to protect kids from all the things that kill at least 16 kids per year in the USA.

  240. SKL October 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    So basically the USA has decided that there is no value in natural immunity. I think that’s what I’m hearing, considering nobody seems to think it’s even worth addressing here.

    I dunno, I really take a lot of comfort in the knowledge that my elderly parents are not susceptible to an outbreak of measles, mumps, or chickenpox, because they had it as kids when it was no big deal for them.

    My kids won’t be so lucky.

  241. Tamara October 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Go do your own research Neil. I’ve done enough to satisfy myself.

    Here is a URL regarding your “established, mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific source”

  242. Warren October 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Just wondering, where it will stop, for all of you wanting to make vaccinations mandatory? No more DNRs, state ordered sterilizations?

    Because right now a lot of you are in favour of state sponsored extortion. Vaccinate your kid or else. Nice job Comrades.

    Gotta laugh, I would bet that there are people in here that would fight to the end to support a woman’s right to have an abortion, “her body, her call”, but are the same people that would support the gov’t mandating vaccinations. Can you say HYPOCRITES? LOL!!!!!!!

  243. SKL October 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    And the CDC lets people directly exposed to dying Ebola patients freely travel all over the place.

    Yeah, sure I trust the CDC to know what’s best for me and my kids.

  244. allyson October 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Probably this has been said already (I can’t read all 200+ comments), but the fact is the school is trying to prevent a chicken pox outbreak. They are trying to maintain herd immunity, so kids who are not immune must stay home until the incubation period is over. And please get your child vaccinated before she becomes a teen! Chicken pox in teens and adults can be devastating! My aunt had it at age 22 and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. A shot is so much easier.

  245. Jennifer October 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Since the child needs to stay home for 20 days, the mother may as well try to find the infected kid and let the kids play together. At least then they can get the chicken pox out of the way and not waste so much time sitting home!

  246. Donna October 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    SKL – Again, huh? If people actually get the vaccines, there will be no outbreaks of any of those diseases to worry about people getting. Right now way more people die falling out of the bed than actually contract mumps each year (600 vs 63). More than twice as many people climb Mt. Everest in one day than contract measles in the whole year (169 vs 63). Lightening kills more people than contract tetanus each year (29 vs 26). Only 5 people contracted rubella in 2010 and smallpox, diphtheria and polio have been eradicated in the US. All thanks to vaccines.

    There is no value whatsoever to having a specific disease in existence. If chicken pox is eradicated, the world will not suffer some horrible fate. There are plenty other things out there to give our immune systems exercise.

  247. Donna October 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    “And the CDC lets people directly exposed to dying Ebola patients freely travel all over the place.”

    I wasn’t aware the the CDC controlled travel access. And to think that I’ve just been buying plane tickets on my own all these years.

  248. hineata October 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    @Crazy Cat Lady – pelvic inflammatory diseases?! LOL! No, primary immune disorders…which thankfully it sounds like yours don’t have, if they are developing immunity to things :-).

    @SKL – not that it will help other US-born kids, but if a hereditary component exists to immunity, then your own particular children should be well covered, as they were adopted from an underdeveloped nation, weren’t they?

  249. SKL October 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Donna, unless the rest of the world gets on board with the idea that chickenpox must be eradicated, then no, it’s not going away.

    I think you may also be confused about measles. Worldwide numbers are much higher. And vaccination is far from universal worldwide.

    As for Ebola, yeah, you must have heard that the CDC cleared at least one of the current ebola patients to fly around even after she reported symptoms. The CDC is setting all sorts of policies that affect the spread of the disease in the US.

  250. Warren October 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Modern day idea of herd immunity is fiction. A society’s dependance on vaccines will eventually lead to more and more immune weakened individuals.

    And I tell you, that for all the so called protection you think you are getting, Mother Nature is far more powerful, and smarter. Each and every time the earth/Mother Nature needs to cull the herd, all she has to do is drop another virus on us. She has done it in the past, and will do it again. And the more people that depend on vaccines to protect them against every little freaking thing, the easier it is to thin the herd.

    You cannot fight natural selection. Nature eventually always wins.

  251. SKL October 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Hineata – my kids never had measles, mumps, or chickenpox. I never had measles or mumps. The lack of natural immunity will be an issue as we age.

    We travel a lot. I guess if a person stays in a really insular community that never travels or admits travellers, the risk is mostly limited to whatever the local people pass around. But that isn’t our lifestyle, nor do I believe it should be.

  252. hineata October 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    @SKL – okay, I’m confused a bit/a lot :-). Didn’t you think that your parents having had some of the illnesses passed on some immunity to you (disclaimer here – I know effectively nothing about the immune system, am still trying to keep track of which ‘letters’ El Sicko’s lack of other ‘letters’ comes from :-), and no idea about genetic immunity to particular diseases!). So your daughters should have some genetic protection through their biological parents, if that’s the way it works.

    Also, good on you for travelling, wish I could get away more, but surely you would vaccinate your family if you were travelling to areas with ‘dodgy’ illnesses. In fact, I thought it was mandatory in some parts of South America to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever before visiting (it certainly is if you’re coming from NZ).

  253. hineata October 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    And yeah, that Ebola thing was weird. I would have thought that the chap returning from West Africa would have been isolated as a matter of course….

    The hospital doesn’t appear to have treated the whole situation very seriously. And no I don’t think that the whole world is going to come down with Ebola, and I don’t fear it, but in some situations overkill seems like a wise idea. Heavens, in the past here we’ve had towns blocked off and farms locked down with whole herds destroyed over a cattle disease. I can’t imagine that a first world country like the US couldn’t manage the same. You’d think a very serious human illness would render a bit of overkill wise…or does that infringe on human rights or something?

  254. LG October 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    You are still viewing this incorrectly, by thinking that it’s only a matter of accepting risk for the child. You should really also be considering the child as a disease vector.

    What about the person on chemotherapy, or for any number of other reasons has a suppressed immune system, who is behind the parent and child in line at the grocery store? What about the person at the next table over at the cafe who can’t get vaccinated because they are legitimately allergic? The occasional person whose vaccine didn’t give them full immunity and thus unknowingly are depending on “herd immunity?” The pregnant mother or the infant too young to have been vaccinated? Or any number of other cases. How can you justify passing risk along to these most vulnerable members of the population?

    When we were kids, there was no vaccine, and thus no ethical dilemma about how our actions affect third parties. Today there is. We have the power to protect the vulnerable (as well as ourselves), but some of us apparently are more than willing to conscript others into accepting additional health risk.

  255. SKL October 17, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Hineata – I did mention more than one kind of natural immunity. The main kind, the kind I was saying my parents have that gives me comfort, is the kind you get from actually having had the disease at a time when it was not very dangerous to you. The second kind, which is not as strong but still something, is the kind you get from gestating within a woman who has the immunity herself. You might be talking about a third kind, i.e., a natural in-born ability to fight a disease despite having no specific antibodies for it.

    I have no way of knowing whether my kids have the second or third kind of natural immunity. As for the first kind, I would probably know if they had contracted any of those diseases during their infancy prior to coming home. As far as I know, they did not.

    The indigenous peoples here are not known for having especially strong immune systems. A major event in the hemisphere’s history was the unintentional introduction (by Europeans) of illnesses that killed the indigenous people, but which most Europeans managed to survive due to inherited immunities.

    One of my kids gets sick pretty easily. The other one does not. SO who knows? I assume they will be pretty much the same as all the other vaxed American kids.

  256. SKL October 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    As far as getting vaxed before traveling, we can go online to look up recommended vaxes, but I’ve never gotten them nor had my kids do so. So far the kids have been to India and to several Central American countries as well as Europe. We did go into the jungles etc., and my wimpier kid (who is allergic to bug bites) did get some unpleasant bites, but nothing deadly. We are planning a trip to Argentina and Chile next.

    Even in the US, we go to places that have a lot of tourists. This past weekend, we went to Niagara Falls Canada and to Kalahari, a waterpark located in a popular tourist city. And just yesterday my kids and I attended an international charity event where we shook hands with a number of people from Africa and other developing areas. I am not a worrier. 🙂

    I only brought up Ebola to point out the contrast between us quarantining a non-sick, non-vaxed kid over the possibility of chickenpox, while letting an Ebola nurse known to have a fever fly from city to city without any precautions at all.

    I live in the city she flew to. There are many schools and businesses that have been closed while they scrub and sanitize like crazy. Many people, including teachers and nurses, have been quarantined. (These nurses and teachers were on the same plane with Nurse Ebola.) Obviously this will add up to a considerable cost even if Ebola did not spread further (and I sure hope it did not).

    And yet people are calling everyone horrible names and telling them how rotten they are because they don’t think it is smart to suspend a kindergartener who is not even sick, but might have been remotely exposed to chickenpox. Chickenpox.

  257. SKL October 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Before Warren has a heart attack: I did not mean to imply that Niagara Falls Canada is in the US. It is not. It is just over the border from Niagara Falls US. I was just saying that we don’t have to go to an equatorial jungle to be in contact with foreign germs. They come right to our neck of the woods for our convenience.

  258. SKL October 17, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Other correction: I do not live *in* the city that Nurse Ebola flew to. I live near there. It is a fairly large metro area and my home is in the general area.

    I kinda wish we could edit out our typos.

  259. hineata October 17, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    @SKL – okay, you’re braver than me. I would probably have every shot known to man before going to India, LOL!

    Genetic immunity must be something, I guess. I know Maori are more susceptible to TB, for instance (actually once upon a time to all Euro diseases, of course). I think Chinese might be too. We were advised to vaccinate the kids against TB at birth – all babies known to have Maori/Poly and/or Asian heritage are offered the vaccine (well, the parents are!). Anyway we chose to because Hubby’s mum comes from an area that still has a fair bit of TB….and she was visiting at the time. Was just as well we did do it then, TB being a live vaccine.

    Anyway all that travel sounds really exciting!

  260. Flurry October 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    “She’s lucky the kid was allowed to attend school in the first place” because of delaying ONE vaccination? Come on.

  261. Donna October 17, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    SKL – I thought that I said that I was talking about US numbers but maybe not.

    But you bring up an excellent point. Despite what is going on in the rest of the world, there are only around 63 cases of measles in the US each year. All the planes flying in and out, tourists from other countries walking about and anti-vax communities here, yet we still have an incredibly low incidence of measles country-wide.

    So while I agree that chickenpox will never be completely eradicated from the globe unless everyone jumps on board, we could certainly make it an extreme rarity within our borders regardless of what the rest of the world decides to do.

    And, if I am not worried about my child being one of 115 kids kidnapped each year, I am certainly not worried about being one of the 63 members of the total population who get measles. And while you and I like to travel, only 10% of US citizens hold a passport and even that is a huge jump up from the level before you were required to have a passport to travel to Canada, Mexico and take cruises, which would indicate that a large number of those with passports don’t actually travel far beyond our borders. A policy encouraging exposure to diseases that we may encounter in other countries seems a bit ridiculous when so little of the population actually leaves the US.

  262. MI Dawn October 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Personally, I’ve always been upset that my kids missed the chicken pox vaccine. It was NOT fun having to watch my child scream with pain because she was covered with pox from head to toe, inside her mouth, her genitalia, everywhere! It was NOT fun having to give a 6 year old narcotics for pain, and worry about infection.

    I’m not happy about the thought of shingles for myself, or for my children. I hate the scars I have from the pox, and that my children have.

    This mother made her choice not to vaccinate. Her child is vulnerable. Therefore, like any vulnerable child, she needs to stay home from school so 1) she is not at risk to catch chicken pox and 2) she is not at risk to expose a vulnerable person who *can’t* be vaccinated to chicken pox.

  263. Violet October 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

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    Maybe that’s you! Looking ahead to see you.

  264. MOBK October 18, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    Free range parenting to me is about making good efforts to protect kids from real risks and avoiding protecting them from imaginary risks. It’s also about cost benefit. I purposely expose my kids to some known-to-be dangerous activities like bike riding, kayaking and skiing because I believe they have major benefits spelled F-U-N.

    In the context of vaccination I chose to expose my kids to the tiny risk of vaccination (yes there are some risks) rather than the much greater (but still relatively small) risk of an avoidable disease.

    That said of all the recommended vaccines where I live (BC, Canada) varicella is the one I would be most comfortable in skipping as the cost benefit is less clear than for most other common vaccines. I think that is reflected by the fact that varicella vaccine is not universally adopted even in countries with advanced public health programs. So I wouldn’t call people that opt out of varicella batsheet crazy like I do people that opt out of polio, tetanus, measles etc. Having grown up in a prety granola bar corner of the world I do know a number of die-hard anti-vaxxers who are convinced that all vaccines are incredibly dangerous. Sad to say these tend to be the same folks that believe in chemtrails, 9-11 was an inside job and all that junk.

    Getting vaccinated is also a social thing to do. It benefits you AND it benefits the community as a whole. I would NOT go so far as to say that people should be forced to vacccinate though. That is too much sacrifice of personal freedom for too nebulous a public benefit. That said nobody should be shocked that the moderately anti-social choice of avoiding vaccination has a few consequences. In this case (forced stay at home for three weeks) the consequences were well known in advance, so I think the woman is being a bit of a snowflake with her complaints.

  265. Claude Slagenhop October 18, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    The irony is: If you threatened to keep your kid out of school because some other kid has chicken pox, the school would probably send armed thugs out to retrieve your kid. It is just a power and authority thing, get used to it. We are no longer free. BTW: School just prepares them for prison.

  266. BK October 18, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    I don’t know about this mom’s school, but at our school when you sign the exemption sheet, it says right on there, “I understand that my child may be excluded from school for a period of time if another child becomes infected with…” The exclusion probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, although the fact that it happened so soon after the start of the school year might have been surprising.

  267. jeanine October 18, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Seems like they are bullying the family so they comply and vaccinate. Nurses who were forced to wear face masks when they refused the flu vaccine are suing saying it violates HIPPA law for patient privacy. As a parent who also doesn’t vaccinate we understand our kids could get those diseases. We know the risk and are ok with it (at least more ok with it then the risks associated with the vaccines). Saying she can’t go to school because she might sue if she gets chicken pox seems utterly ridiculous. There would be no grounds for it. The family is being signaled out right now and it is a violation of their rights.

  268. Alexandra October 18, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    She doesn’t know what to tell her child? How about the truth, in words and terms that a five year old can understand? Why make it more complicated than it has to be?

    Chicken pox is no fun, but if I remember correctly, I wasn’t school age when I had it, and my brother was even younger. I vaguely remember baking soda baths and calamine lotion. It’s not the end of the world, but at the same time, I understand the school taking precautions. Are they being overcautious? Perhaps, but again, I don’t blame them, in this litigious day and age.

  269. Dlivtx October 18, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    It is a public school and if the school wants to do everything it can to try and prevent the spread of disease, that is their perrogative. If you want your child to attend school without these kinds of interruptions, you should probably give your child all the required vaccinations. Period. It is not just about protecting one unvaccinated child, it is about protecting other children from the spread of disease. While this woman had a choice not to vaccinate her child, there are other children who do not have that choice due to several different medical conditions that compromise a child’s immune system. Some children are fighting cancer and cannot be vaccinated because their immunse system is compromised. Parents of those children have a whole list of preventable diseases to worry about on top of cancer and would not have to worry so much if every child that could be vaccinated was vaccinated at their school. But, I am so terribly sorry this has been an inconveinience for your child. Just know that sometimes it is not just about you and the risks you are willing to take with your child. Sometimes your choices are also affecting others.

  270. SKL October 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Oh by the way, children with AIDS are not allowed to be excluded from public school.

    You can exclude a child who is NOT sick because someone else has a very mild disease, against which most other kids are vaccinated.

    But at the same time, you cannot exclude a child with a serious, deadly (also communicable) disease against which none of the other kids are vaccinated.

    I’m not saying kids with AIDS should be excluded. But there is a very clear double standard here. The bottom line is that this makes no sense other than as a way to punish parents who don’t follow the party line.

  271. SKL October 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    My post got lost in cyberspace …

    A kid with AIDS, a very deadly communicable disease against which no school kids are vaccinated, is not allowed to be excluded from school.

    Yet we “justify” excluding a kid who is NOT sick because someone else has a mild disease against which most classmates are vaccinated.

    The stark double standard, which seems to bother nobody, proves that this is more about punishing a family for nonconformity than about keeping schools disease free.

  272. SKL October 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    testing – is the site messed up or does it not like my comment ….

  273. Pauline October 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    I feel like there is missing information. The kids who got chickenpox…were they vaccinated? If so, it shows that vaccinated kids can still get it, so why send home the non-vax kid and not the vaccinated kids? Or do non-vaccinated kids get sent home every time someone gets sick for an illness that had avaccine because they’re more likely to catch it and so the # of kids walking around with the illness is higher and this more non-vaxxed kids have more exposure? Does this mean kids get sent home when a kid gets the flu, too? Lots of questions.

  274. anon October 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Part of the reason why this is such a great time to parent free range is because we live in very safe times, at least in the US. A very big part of that is thanks to vaccines. Preventable illness supposedly accounts for some 80% of childhood death in the world, and I saw recently on the WHOs website that it’s some 6 million children a year. That is so tragic, and I vaccinate my child because I’m so grateful that I don’t live in a part of the world where losing a child to an illness is considered normal. I don’t take that for granted and I don’t believe it’s responsible for any parent to take it for granted. In the US, the top causes of childhood death are car accidents, drowning, fires, etc… mostly accidental injuries that are also very preventable. The parent who wrote in would probably never let her kindergartener play unattended near open water, ride without proper restraint, play with lighters, and also probably expects her child’s school to practice fire safety drills and comply with all safety codes and emergency procedures in order to keep her daughter safe. I feel the same for my own child. I would have to ask her, though, why she is selective about keeping her child safe? Is it because she believes illnesses aren’t really a threat? Is it because she believes that the government and her own doctor are all lying to her about vaccines being safe and effective? That’s the free range issue I see on all of this, not what she is perceiving to be an overreaction on the school’s part. It’s all about putting safety in perspective (addressing true safety issues rather consuming oneself with imaginary ones) so that kids can live both freely and safely.

    I think that the school may have overreacted just a teensy bit, but I still wouldn’t fault the school. They wouldn’t be allowed to disclose whether there were a student there who is immunocompromised and can’t be vaccinated, and also for whom chickenpox can pose a true health threat. These kids do exist, and their parents may want to raise them free range and worry free, too… how can they when so many parents of healthy kids refuse to vaccinate?

  275. pentamom October 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    SKL — commenting’s been weird the last week or so, on and off. It’s probably not your comment.

  276. Jen October 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Florida schools are pretty much the same way. We also do not vaccinate and have to go through the religious exemption process (which your pediatrician cannot give, it has to be done by the county health department). Out of the handful of kids in public school on religious exemption how many kids that have been vaccinated fail to sero-convert? Not everybody who receives a vaccination will produce immunity. Both my mother and husband who are RNs have received the Hep B series multiple and both have failed to sero-convert. What about those kids? Will titers be required to be drawn? In reality the school is playing a numbers game as to who is actually immune to the diseases that are vaccinated for.

  277. SKL October 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I would note that my current healthcare professional does not recommend vaxes. There is not universal consensus among US health care professionals, even about the more essential vaxes.

    FTR in case it is confusing, I vax but I decide on a case-by-case basis regarding whether and when.

    I feel a bit irresponsible because I myself have not had a booster in decades, even though it would make more sense for me than for my kids.

  278. Puzzled October 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Anon – while I don’t disagree with many of your points, I am not so sure that the presence of vaccines is a reason why it’s safe to raise free-range kids. I don’t think anyone worries that a child walking down the street will have Measles jump out of a bush and grab them, and no helicopter parent is convinced that parental presence and constant supervision would prevent disease. I just don’t see the connection.

    As for raising an immuno-compromised child without worrying, or any child with worrying, for that matter – I don’t think that’s a reasonable goal. The point is to not let worry overwhelm your reason, not to never worry.

    I really doubt that the parents who decide not to vaccinate rob immuno-compromised children of the ability to have a free-range childhood. For those with severe enough problems to, say, not be able to leave their room and have visitors sanitized, they were never going to have a free-range childhood. It’s unfortunate but can’t be fixed at the moment. As for the rest, not letting them walk to the park is not going to change things. People with immune issues are at risk of infection all the time, parental supervision or not. Again, I fail to see the connection.

    Finally, what happened to the idea of world-proofing a child, not child-proofing the world? Yes, children have diseases and conditions that limit their ability to do things. This is bad, and it’s good that science is working to fix it. It can’t be fixed, though, in my opinion, by limiting the freedom of others.

    I don’t think that this particular parent’s freedoms are abridged by keeping the kid out of school. I’m responding more to the comments that suggested that everyone should be legally required to be vaccinated. I do not believe in shotgun vaccinations.

    I also have to say, I am having trouble understanding Violet’s comment.

  279. E October 18, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    @SKL — just for clarification’s sake. Your current “health care professional” does not recommend ANY vaccines?

    What kind of “health care professional” is this — is it a MD? What kind specifically?


  280. CrazyCatLady October 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    SKL, to me the difference with a kid with chicken pox, measles, mumps or such, and HIV/AIDS is the method of transmission.

    A person with AIDS is NOT going to transmit AIDS to another person just by standing there and breathing, or even sneezing. A person with AIDS can only transmit it through body fluid, into an open wound. (Sex can cause small tears in the vagina and rectum.) So unless the child with AIDS has a habit of spitting in people’s eyes, having unprotected sex in school, or sharing needles and shooting up, it is not likely that the child will spread the disease. (And for the record, even the spitting is not likely to transmit HIV/AIDS.)

  281. Andrea October 18, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Wow, some of these comments are full of vitriol, judgement, and worst-first thinking! Apparently personal observation and first-hand experience with chicken pox means nothing. According to so many in this usually free-thinking forum, we’re all just supposed to follow the herd (like sheep), set aside our rational minds, and do exactly what the government (who we are watching carelessly botch the containment of a much more serious virus right now) tells us to do.

    Here is my personal experience with the chicken pox. I caught it at age 24 when I was working at an elementary school. This was a few years before the vaccine was mandated. I was itchy, but just fine, and so were all the kids who caught it at that school. My own kids caught chicken pox at ages 4 and 6 months when my husband came down with shingles. They were itchy, but just fine. I am aware that people can die from complications from chicken pox, but that’s true of the common cold as well, isn’t it? I simply have a difficult time worrying much about a virus that was considered mostly benign as I was growing up and that I have personally experienced to be benign as well.

    Our own doctor doesn’t recommend the chicken pox vaccine. He says that it’s an economic vaccine designed so parents don’t have to take time off of work. Shingles is indeed a factor to consider, but there are shingles vaccines for those who got chicken pox and want to avoid shingles later in life. There is an argument in favor of the chicken pox vaccine, but it is a more complex issue than the fundamentalist chicken pox vaccinators are making it. Calling the mom in the original post an idiot is like me telling you you don’t care about your children if you don’t homeschool just like me. (And I would never say something like that.)

    Insulting people for declining this particular vaccine, as quite a few have done in these comments, is unproductive and makes you sound like a jerk, not like somebody who is genuinely concerned about public health. I do appreciate the people who have attempted to make calm and rational arguments in favor of the vaccine — you are the folks who might actually convince people that your stance is the better one.

  282. hineata October 19, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    @Puzzled – off topic a little, but these days for many of the serious congenital immune-deficient conditions, they can do bone marrow transplants. Drastic, but makes the immune system brand new evidently.

    Says Dr. hineata, who can’t even keep track of doctor appointments with any sort of reliability, let alone health info :-).

  283. SKL October 19, 2014 at 12:31 am #

    E, I switched to a chiropractor for our family wellness and most of our illness issues. (This was after my kids had the vaxes I decided to permit.) Our health has been better than ever as the chiro takes more time to actually look at and listen to us and touch us and make things better without chemicals.

  284. Donna October 19, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    SKL – Making ridiculous comparisons doesn’t make your arguments stronger or convince anyone of anything. AIDS cannot be passed from simply sitting in a classroom. Chickenpox can. That is a completely rational reason to treat the two diseases very differently. Now if they were allowing kids with chickenpox to stay in the classroom, but making the healthy unvaccinated kids go home, you could make a comparison. But they don’t; kids with chickenpox are sent home and made to remain there for a certain number of days.

    Keep in mind that I am not particularly pro-chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox certainly was not a scourge that I believed needed to be erased from the globe and, if I was a medical researcher, I totally would not have supported wasting time, money and resources on developing a vaccine for chickenpox when there is so much more important work to be done. But the vaccine now exists, and frankly there is simply no benefit whatsoever in needless suffering. You are not going to be met by God at the pearly gates with a special reward for suffering through chickenpox and shingles instead of getting a vaccine. The human immune system is not going to waste away to nothing because it doesn’t battle chickenpox. Chickenpox contributes nothing to us such that suffering through it actually provides some overall benefit. There is simply no reason for chickenpox to exist and no reason not to get rid of it.

  285. Donna October 19, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    SKL – Making ridiculous comparisons doesn’t make your arguments stronger. AIDS cannot be passed from simply sitting in a classroom. Chickenpox can. That is a completely rational reason to treat the two diseases very differently. Now if they were allowing kids with chickenpox to stay in the classroom, but making the healthy unvaccinated kids go home, you could make a comparison. But they don’t; kids with chickenpox are also sent home and made to remain there for a certain number of days.

    Keep in mind that I am not particularly pro-chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox certainly was not a scourge that I believed needed to be erased from the globe and, if I was a medical researcher, I would not have supported wasting time, money and resources on developing a vaccine for chickenpox when there is so much more important work to be done. But the vaccine now exists, and frankly there is simply no benefit whatsoever in needless suffering. You are not going to be met by God at the pearly gates with a special reward for suffering through chickenpox and shingles instead of getting a vaccine. The human immune system is not going to waste away to nothing because it doesn’t battle chickenpox. Chickenpox contributes nothing to us such that suffering through it actually provides some overall benefit. There is simply no reason for chickenpox to exist and no reason not to get rid of it.

  286. Flurry October 19, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Anecdotally, my son has been far, far sicker with numerous bouts of strep throat than he ever was with chicken pox. Strep throat is contagious a few days before symptoms appear and the ramifications from untreated strep are quite serious. Are the apparently hundreds of immune-suppressed kids (that you all keep referencing) being sent home when a case of strep is confirmed in the school? Doubtful. Is everyone upset about their 90-year-old father getting strep because a kid at school was so irresponsible and got sick? Doubtful.

    So why are we going completely nuts over a common childhood illness that actual MDs and other countries do not believe needs to be vaccinated against?

    And yeah, how did the kid in the original poster’s school GET the chicken pox anyway? He or she was vaccinated, right?

  287. Flurry October 19, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Anecdotally, my son has been far, far sicker with numerous bouts of strep throat that he ever was with chicken pox. Strep is contagious a few days before symptoms appear, and the ramifications of untreated strep are quite serious. But. Are the hundreds of immune-suppressed kids (that you all keep referencing) being sent home from school whenever a student has a strep diagnosis? Doubtful. Is anyone worried about their frail 90-year-old father when his grandchild’s classmate, oh horror, got sick with strep? Doubtful.

    Why are we going so completely nuts over a childhood illness that many actual MDs in this country, not to mention medical professionals in other countries, do not even think needs to be vaccinated against?

    And add me to the list of those wondering how the student in the original poster’s school got the chicken pox. I mean, he or she was vaccinated, right??

  288. Beth October 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Anecdotally, my son has been far, far sicker with numerous bouts of strep throat that he ever was with chicken pox. Strep is contagious a few days before symptoms appear, and the ramifications of untreated strep are quite serious. But. Are the hundreds of immune-suppressed kids (that you all keep referencing) being sent home from school whenever a student has a strep diagnosis? Doubtful. Is anyone worried about their frail 90-year-old father when his grandchild’s classmate was irresponsible and, oh horrors, got sick? Doubtful.

    Why are we going so completely nuts over a childhood illness that many actual MDs in this country, not to mention medical professionals in other countries, do not even think needs to be vaccinated against?

    And add me to the list of those wondering how the student in the original poster’s school got the chicken pox. I mean, he or she was vaccinated, right??

  289. SKL October 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Donna, I don’t think my comparisons are as ridiculous as the ~100 comments arguing that if I don’t vax for chickenpox, I probably don’t care if everyone else’s child dies.

    And I do not agree that it is a settled fact that natural immunity from having the pox at a young age is not better than artificial, partial, temporary immunity from having the vax. There are risks to wiping out natural immunity. Eventually we’ll see the ugly results and then the victims will be seen as “taking one for the team.” Because at that point, it seems, everyone will believe that a breakout of chickenpox in kindergarten is horrific beyond the imagination. Kids dying left and right! How could anyone be in favor of that?

  290. lollipoplover October 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Just saw this response from “Ask Marilyn” section of Parade magazine:

    “Some people think that if other children are vaccinated, an unvaccinated child doesn’t put them at risk. Isn’t the risk only to the unvaccinated child? The answer is “no.” Many people cannot be vaccinated, such as those who are allergic to the vaccine and those who have immune systems weakened from other diseases. Also, some people do not develop immunity even after being vaccinated, and many children are too young to be vaccinated. An unvaccinated child who becomes ill puts all of these people at risk, too. In addition, he or she puts other unvaccinated children at risk.
    Yet it is important to understand that parents who decline to vaccinate their children will not be swayed by these arguments. Why? Because they fear that the vaccination itself may cause terrible harm. This is surely mistaken, but they believe it, and that’s the crux of the matter. Given the choice of risking great damage to their children versus putting others at risk of these diseases, they naturally choose the latter. This means the only way to reach these parents is through education. Appealing to altruism is not going to work.”

  291. Puzzled October 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Wow, interesting. Works for immune deficiency diseases and immunosuppression. I suspect it’s less dramatic than resetting the entire immune system, though, since only part of the system is mediated through the bone marrow.

  292. hineata October 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Had to laugh, caught half a story about Varicella – is that the name of the vaccine? – on the news last night. Seems Pharmac is thinking of bringing it in. Will only be free for ‘those who need it’, though… maybe we didn’t have it available before at all.

    Not that I can see queues forming to get it :-).

  293. SKL October 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I remember when the chickenpox vax first came out. It was received with a general “Ohh kay, that’s nice if you’re worried about that.” Which nobody with healthy young kids was, back then.

  294. Neil M October 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm #


    Normally, in a debate the burden of proof falls on the person who makes the assertion, not those who challenge it. So when that person says, “Do your own research”, it’s reasonable to others to wonder if she really can marshal any substantive evidence in support of her assertion. For example, if I were to claim that evolutionary theory provides the best explanation for the origin of species, I could back that up with tons of scientific authority. If I refused to do so, you’d be wise to suspect that perhaps I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

    That being said, I really, really believe that whatever research you’ve done has satisfied you. Oh yeah.

  295. Wendy October 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    I wager a guess that this is the school policy regardless of type of exemption, which is a fair albeit unilateral stance. In terms of being lethal – no, likely not if you’re a healthy, robust child. But talk to the parent of a child with cancer and I’m sure they would give you an earful about the potential lethality of chickenpox to their littles.

  296. Jenny Islander October 19, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    @Beth: The thing about strep is, you can kill it with antibiotics because it’s caused by a bacterium. Chickenpox is viral, so when you get it, you’ve got it.

  297. Warren October 19, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Our family doctor is a general practioner and surgeon.

    For patients that are normally healthy, he does not recomend the chicken pox vaccine or the flu shot. And I will put his education, experience and judgement far ahead of anyone commenting and posting on any website.

  298. CrazyCatLady October 20, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Andrea, SLK and others who keep saying this is “just chicken pox” and you “don’t understand all of this about chicken pox”, the people who are upset are not upset about chicken pox. Unless maybe the will lose their job if they take another sick day for their kid. Or they themselves had a bad experience with chicken pox. Yes, most of us realize for most kids, chicken pox is not a deadly disease.

    Really, this is about all the OTHER diseases that this child is not immunized against. The mumps (that caused my mother-in-law to become 95% deaf,) the measles (that can cause issues with unborn babies,) the whooping couch (that killed a baby in a town where I used to live – the baby was too young to get the vaccine and was misdiagnosed because babies don’t present the same as old children.)

    I am almost 100% sure that because the woman said that she took “the religious exemption” that she did not exempt herself from just chicken pox vaccine. She exempted from ALL the vaccines. If she had exempted just from chicken pox, she would have worded it differently.

    How do I know this? In one of my FB groups, there are a lot of people who don’t vax. They “take the exemption” meaning they don’t vax at all. Some will “selectively vax” meaning they may not do chicken pox, flu or HPV. Some do “alternative schedule” or “delayed vaxing,” meaning that they will do most of the required shots but wait until the child is older than normal. These people are usually considered up to date by the time that school starts. The woman in consideration took the religious exemption…I am pretty sure her child has had no vaccinations. Chicken pox…eh. The other things…a little bigger deal.

    Oh, and for the person wondering about other diseases, like strep…the first school my daughter went to sent home a flyer if a kid got strep, foot and mouth disease, lice or some other things that could put compromised kids at risk so that at least the parents could be aware of them. (Lice being the exception…that is just an itchy pain in the rear of the head, but does not transmit disease.)

  299. E October 20, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    @Warren — I was specifically asking SKL because she said her “health care professional” did not recommend “vaccines” — she wasn’t just referring to Chicken Pox vaccine. (She later identified her health care professional as a Chiropractor).

    I’m not surprised at the different opinions about the Chicken Pox vaccine.

  300. SKL October 20, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Crazy Cat Lady, that’s why I asked upthread if people’s reactions would be different if she had only taken exemption from the chickenpox vax or for reasons other than religious. The vitriol here against this lady and against her kid as a “vector of [chickenpox] disease” is over the top.

    We don’t know that she would have protested having her kid kept out of school during a measles outbreak, do we? The pertinent fact here is that her kid, who does not have chickenpox, was suspended from school because another kid had chickenpox.

    So far you are the only person who admits that it isn’t the chickenpox factor but the overall religious exemption issue that has people upset.

  301. Donna October 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    SKL – We aren’t wiping out natural immunity in general. There are plenty of other germs for our bodies to fight.

    This something we’ve done for other diseases. The measles vaccine is now 46 years old and has yet to cause mass hysteria, large-scale adult outbreaks or any identifiable negative consequences at all. I suppose that they could still be yet to come, but I don’t see any evidence that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. I certainly don’t see a reason to be all “the sky is falling and we are all damned to hell” about chickenpox vaccines. Was it a particularly necessary vaccine to invent? No. Does it make much sense to be miserable for a week and then deal with recurring bouts of shingles throughout adulthood now that both can be avoided with a 90-98% success rate (depending on whose numbers you use)? Not really. And I say this as a parent whose child doesn’t get all the vaccines available. I am more bothered by vaccines for less common illnesses than those that everyone will likely get if not vaccinated like chickenpox.

    Further, it appears from hineata’s comments that the international community may not be against the chickenpox vaccine.

  302. Annika October 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    Her kid already shouldn’t be in school. Measles and mumps are both more contagious than ebola. Letting people opt out of vaccines for obviously unreal reasons (her mention of a religious exception sounds like her reasons are everything but religious – who says “everything was going perfectly” in relation to an exception to not protect your children against deadly diseases?) is stupid, and if you’re not going to vaccinate, you should homeschool or nothing instead of risking everyone else’s health. Keep her kid home for good, and get rid of another antivax whackjob.

    Side note? Shingles is a horrifyingly painful disease which only occurs in adults who have had chicken pox. She should be thanking them for making her child stay home so they never have to endure that. I had chicken pox as a child and am dreading the chance that I could come down with shingles.

  303. Warren October 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm #


    Your vile attitude is more infectious and damaging than chicken pox ever could be.

  304. SKL October 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Since there is a shingles vax, why are we talking about the chickenpox vax as if it is necessary to avoid shingles? Get a shingles vax if you’re afraid of shingles.

  305. Puzzled October 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    Annika – I’m on board with anything that keeps kids, any kids, out of schools – one less rotten brain. It doesn’t get rid of her, by the way, to not let her send her kid to school, unless you mean you’re also going to get rid of her.

    It doesn’t help your case, though, to say that measles and mumps are more contagious than ebola. Most things are more contagious than ebola. Ebola isn’t particularly contagious. So why would you set “more contagious than ebola” as the cutoff for mandatory, no-exceptions vaccines, instead of, say, being dangerous, rather than just contagious? The cold is also more contagious than ebola.

    I will say, though, that as much as I find the smug attitude of “science knows all” – an attitude which scientists don’t hold – annoying, I appreciate that your response to someone who acts differently than you would like is to keep them from public schools, rather than to force them to have the shots at gunpoint. Just throw in “and are exempt from school taxes” and I’ll be even happier, but I’m ok without it too.

    Like I said, anything to get a kid out of school.

  306. Tory October 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    I actually almost died as an infant from the chicken pox so I actually take vaccinating very seriously. I think if the parent signed a waver saying she woulnd’t sue if her kid got sick then I would be more OK with it. In the end it is her kid at risk, I get the schools response, but sadly many parents would sue or react negatively if their kid got the chicken pox. I still have scars from when I had it and I would absolutely not wish for anyone to get it.

  307. JJ October 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Does anyone else think it’s odd that the prospective remedy to the reported feelings of loneliness and isolation from being kicked out of public school for 20 days is homeschooling?

  308. pentamom October 21, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    “Does anyone else think it’s odd that the prospective remedy to the reported feelings of loneliness and isolation from being kicked out of public school for 20 days is homeschooling?”

    No, because when you homeschool, you don’t depend on a physical school setting for your interaction, and then sit around feeling deprived of it because you don’t have it. You intentionally plan to have various kinds of interaction with others throughout the day.

    Isolating a person from the people they’re used to interacting with is, well, isolating. Finding a new structure for spending your time is a reasonable remedy to that.

  309. Warren October 21, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Gotta ask, because a few have mentioned it. But how in the blue hell can a parent sue a school because their kid got the chicken pox?

    Can we now sue our coworker for giving us their cold?

    What the hell has this world come to, and if this is the direction society is going then we are all screwed.

    Civil suits over common illnesses. State sponsored extortion. Forcing people to accept medical treatments for the betterment of the herd. Just wait, for the one child per family law to be drafted, in the US.

  310. Tamara October 21, 2014 at 11:40 am #


    I am so not debating you. You are not interested in a debate, you just want to be “right”

  311. Summer27Rayne October 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Tim you shouldn’t be so judging as to call someone an idiot for not wanting there child vaccinated. The school doesn’t care about the kids they just want to do what the government wants them to do. Every parent has there own right to there child.

    And about everyone feeling obligated to get there child vaccinated, more often the kids that get vaccinated are the ones that get sick. Everyone has there own reasons why they don’t approve of vaccinations. I for one have experienced a few relatives who when there child was very young and in the hospital, without the parents consent the child was given a vaccination. In all three cases the child was fine, after getting vaccinated they developed otism. They say that it isn’t ‘scientifically proven’ that they are related. Bunch of bull. The government and schools are way too involved in the decisions of our parenting. A parent is not an idiot for making a decision she sees is best for her child.

  312. Dirk October 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Prior to the availability of varicella vaccine there were approximately 4 million cases of varicella a year in the U.S. Though usually a mild disease in healthy children, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people developed complications, about 11,000 people required hospitalization and 100 people died each year from varicella

  313. Dirk October 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    The vaccine may help protect your child against a related disease called shingles. About 1 out of 3 adults who have chicken pox earlier in life get this rash of extremely painful and disfiguring blisters.
    Shingles appears when the chicken pox virus, which lives forever in the central nervous system, “reawakens” and becomes active again. People who were vaccinated against chicken pox may still get shingles, but will have a much less severe case than those who had the disease itself.