I am 41 years old. In 1988, when I was 16, my step-Mother was panicked because I had not yet had Chicken Pox. Her friend caught Chicken Pox, as an adult at the age of 32, and spent a month in the hospital. In fact, as the news media was tossing about the idea of an up-and-coming vaccine for Chicken Pox, she said to me, “If that vaccine gets approved, you’re getting it!”
I didn’t like vaccines. Sure, they are sometimes useful and could even save your life, but to my 16-year-old self, they hurt and they involved needles. Yuck. So, a few months later, when my 2 and 4 year old brothers came down with Chicken Pox, I was thrilled! Much to the joy and relief of my family, I caught it and was still young enough to have an easy case! My family happily welcomed this disease, knowing that it was mildly unpleasant but worth it because we’d most likely be protected for life!
At the same time, as I always seem to do, my mind was watching the world around me and ticking forward…“Hmmm. I wonder what people will think of Chicken Pox if that vaccine ever gets approved? Why vaccinate for something as easy as Chicken Pox? And if they do approve the vaccine, who would want it? Would the vaccine makers and the government try to scare people? Would Chicken Pox, one day, be feared? After centuries of it not being feared?”
And so, as a reminder to parents of today who have been blasted with media fear-tactics, let me refer you to Beverly Lewis’ book, The Chicken Pox Panic. In this short children’s story with a lovely, heart-warming theme, we are reminded of how people used to view Chicken Pox. And, while I don’t want to give anything away, I will say this: