Seeing Spots: Julian’s Chickenpox Story

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If you’re like me, you probably had the chicken pox as a kid, way before the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine was introduced to the public. I vaguely remember the itchy spots and can recall lying on the couch for week watching cartoons. But, if you made it through childhood without catching the chicken pox and haven’t been vaccinated now as an adult, you may be begging for trouble. As Julian found out, getting the chickenpox in adulthood is absolutely horrific.

As a schoolteacher in Australia you may assume Julian has had just about every cold and virus out there. Children tend to be little Petri dishes, harboring all kinds of germs, but the schoolyard is not where his chickenpox story begins.

Julian was spending time with his two sons while on summer break. His oldest son had been vaccinated with the varicella vaccine on schedule, while his youngest was still not old enough for the vaccine.

That summer, Julian’s oldest son came down with a mild, short-lived case of the chickenpox. 

As with many vaccines, even if you get vaccinated it is still possible that you may come down with mild symptoms of the disease should you come in contact with it.

It had never occurred to Julian that he may be susceptible to getting the chickenpox virus, as he assumed he had caught it as a child just like everyone else. However, according to his mother, that was not the case. Julian had never caught the chickenpox, and was a sitting duck for the virus.

Read moreSeeing Spots: Julian’s Chickenpox Story

Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccine

Chickenpox
Goldie Locks has Chicken Pox

I don’t know about you, but I REMEMBER getting the chickenpox as a young child. It was itchy and awful. And oatmeal baths! Oh, the oatmeal baths!!

Because this is most often a children’s disease, I thought it would be appropriate to litter this post with the some of the cute photos from one of my daughter’s favorite children’s books: Goldie Locks has Chicken Pox by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama. 

Although the illustrator makes chicken pox look cute, it’s anything but. Thankfully, due to the vaccine our kids don’t ever need to experience the chickenpox…

Chickenpox is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is part of the herpesvirus family. The same virus that causes chickenpox can cause shingles later in life. The virus is called varicella when it causes chickenpox, then the virus hides in your body and it gets called zoster when it flares back up and causes shingles. There is also a vaccine for shingles called the zoster vaccine, which you may get should you choose to at around the age of 65 (but, that’s for another post).

Read moreVaricella (chickenpox) Vaccine

How are vaccines made and released to the public?


A vaccine’s main goal is to teach your immune system to recognize and remember a bacteria or virus.
The word “vaccination” means to stimulate the immune system to make antibodies against the bacteria or virus targeted by the vaccine.
“Immunization” is different; it’s used in relation to injecting a person with pre-formed antibodies to a particular disease to make the person immune to it.
These terms are often used interchangeably, and that’s just fine, however it’s important to understand that these are two very different ways of creating immunity to a disease.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 9.48.28 PMThe measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe. The end. Phew, that was easy!

Of course I’m only kidding. That’s definitely not the end, not even close. There’s so much information out there about the MMR vaccine—good and bad, informative, and plenty of opinions—that it’s hard to know what to believe. I’m not going to give you my opinion on the vaccine (although I’m sure you could guess), that’s for another post. These are the facts.

Read moreMeasles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)