Friday March 6, 2009
A group of local moms got their kids together in Albemarle County Friday afternoon for a play date; but it wasn't just any play date.
"Usually they'll like share a water glass or...a lollipop, a sucker...a candy cane," Latia Murphy explained.
Playing together, eating and drinking after one another, it's all with one goal in mind: to get the Chicken Pox.
Murphy's son Conner was the guest of honor at Friday's party. He says he came down with the Pox a few days ago and his mom wasted no time in letting other mothers know via parenting blogs. They quickly organized a Chicken Pox party, drawing women like Beth Medina, who drove all the way from northern Virginia.
"I figured if there was a chance, if there was Chicken Pox anywhere within a three hour drive I would go just because it is becoming harder and harder to find," Medina explained.
The reason less kids are coming down with the Chicken Pox is a vaccine invented in 1995 that is now mandatory for Virginia school kids. Experts say before the vaccine, thousands of children were hospitalized and hundreds more nationwide died each year from the Chicken Pox.
"That's the reason the vaccine was created," said Elizabeth Davies, an epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health, "to try to protect individuals from those severe complications that are rare but sometimes can happen."
The vaccine and booster shots are designed to provide immunity, but experts say in some cases they're not effective for the lifetime of the patient. The moms at Friday's party said they don't want their kids to grow up and catch the Chicken Pox when it's more dangerous, especially for the girls, who, if they catch the strain during pregnancy, can suffer major health problems.
But for little Conner, he says regardless of what his mom or the experts say, the Chicken Pox, and Chicken Pox parties, can be fun.
"My mom made me a smoothie with Vitamin C in it last night," Conner said, "and I get to play with kids."
For more information on the dangers your kids face from the Chicken Pox, and to learn more about the Chicken Pox vaccine, go to http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/factsheets/Chickenpox.htm.