What is a pox party?

A pox party is a gathering organized by parents or caregivers to infect children in their care with the chickenpox virus, more commonly known as chicken pox. Children are told to pass objects that have been in their mouths and to exchange pajamas in an effort to catch the disease to build up their immunity later in life when chickenpox can be deadly. This is usually done because parents or caregivers believe that the chickenpox vaccine is unsafe, although this practice of hosting chickenpox parties is not recommended by most medical professionals. Although many believe that getting chickenpox as a child is safe, it can have serious side effects both at the time of infection and later in life.

When a child naturally gets chickenpox, the parent or caregiver throws a chickenpox party and activities are planned to spread the disease. The healthy children meet the sick child in a closed environment, with the intention that the healthy children will catch the virus from the child with chickenpox. Kids can pass around the same candy, eat ice cream with the same spoon, or play with the same whistle. Since chickenpox is highly contagious, especially through saliva, the sick child will usually spread the chickenpox virus to other children. Another common activity at a smallpox party is sharing pajamas: the sores that accompany chickenpox are also contagious, and therefore a healthy child wearing the sick child's pajamas after he or she can also catch the disease.

The main goal of a smallpox party is for children to catch the disease at a young age so that their bodies will develop natural immunity without receiving the vaccine. Parents and caregivers often choose to throw a smallpox party instead of giving their children the standard vaccine because they believe the vaccine is not safe, not effective, or both. Despite this, the vast majority of medical professionals disagree. The chickenpox vaccine is considered one of the safest available, with very limited side effects, and is estimated to protect 85% of children against chickenpox and shingles without having to go through the ordeal of fighting off the virus actual as of 2005

In addition to anti-vaccine views, chickenpox is also often seen as a minor illness, which is often why parents and caregivers believe it's safe to throw a chickenpox party. While many children make it safely through chickenpox, this is not true for everyone. Pneumonia is a relatively common complication, and pockmarks can become infected and cause other health problems. In addition to this, the chickenpox virus can cause an infection in the brain, which can cause permanent damage or even death. By choosing the smallpox party over vaccination, children are also at risk of shingles as adults, which can be incredibly painful and brings its own list of complications.

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