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A member asked:

is it better for children to get chicken pox than the chicken pox vaccine?

11 doctor answers23 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sharon Gilliland
Pediatrics 36 years experience
No: Wild virus chicken pox does carry a risk of complications. In young children, the risk is lower than it is in teens and adults; however, the complications include the potential for life-threatening conditions. Never expose your child purposely to chicken pox. The vaccination is much safer.
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Pediatrics 35 years experience
No: In the "good old days" before the vaccine was introduced, natural chickenpox accounted for roughly 100 fatalities a year (half of them in normal children, half in immunocompromised individuals), as well as thousands of hospitalizations for complications (including "flesh eating disease"), and millions of unsightly scars. Even those who get incomplete protection from vaccine will not be as sick.
Dr. Marc Grella
Pediatrics 28 years experience
No: Although most people who get chickenpox get a mild illness, 1% of those infected are hospitalized and 1% of those (or 1 in 10, 000) die of complications. Much safer to get the vaccine and not have that risk (and not miss school or work or daycare).
Dr. Erica Zwernemann
Pediatrics 24 years experience
When parents say to me that "I had chicken pox and I'm fine", my response is this. You probably did not ride in a carseat either, but that doesn't make it safer for your child.
Feb 1, 2012
Dr. Terri Graham
Pediatrics 31 years experience
There are several additional risks to getting chickenpox, the primary one being the risk of shingles which can be debilitating. With the rise in MRSA, having your skin break down significantly increases the risk of a secondary bacterial infection.
Jun 27, 2012
Dr. Kevin Windisch
Pediatrics 25 years experience
No: Prior to the introduction of the vaccine 100-200 children per year died of chickenpox in the USA. When we had approx. 50% of the population vaccinated the number of deaths fell to 50-100 per year. The vaccine, on the other hand, is safe and not associated with any fatalities.
Dr. Pamela Lindor
Pediatrics 32 years experience
No: Chicken pox is a potentially serious, very contagious viral disease. Getting immunity from a vaccine is much safer than actually having the disease. Although many children who get chicken pox recover, there a serious cases of pneumonia and encephalitis. Before the vaccine, about 100 children died in the US each year from complications of chickenpox.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 33 years experience
No: If a person could predict the future, and knew he would get a very mild case of the chicken pox (less than 10 little bumps), and knew he would never get shingles (caused by the virus) later, then he might be better off getting the disease instead of the vaccine. But nobody can predict the future, and chicken pox can be serious & shingles can cause permanent pain, so children should be vaccinated.
Dr. Jason Perkel
Pediatrics 25 years experience
No: Rarely chicken pox can cause serious complications such as encephalitis, pneumonia or skin infection with staph bacteria. Plus, being sick with the chicken pox makes kids feel lousy for a week sometimes with fever, fussiness, itching and poor appetite. The vaccine is safe, effective and will create immunity.
Dr. Mark Diamond
Pediatrics 46 years experience
No: Absolutely not! the disease in the worse case scenario can cause death. The vaccine does not. What more needs said!
Dr. Paul Trani
Specializes in Pediatrics
No: Though chicken pox is a self-limited illness in most children, there are potential severe complications from varicella (chicken pox), including retinitis, meningitis, and pneumonia. Also, someone who has had chicken pox is at risk for shingles for the rest of their life. The varicella vaccine carries none of these risks, and is generally very well-tolerated.
Dr. Jay Park
Dr. Jay Parkanswered
Pediatrics 50 years experience
No: Natural disease of chicken pox does induce stronger immune response to produce longer immunity (protection) but not without cost. Although uncommon, infected children with chicken pox develop complications such as severe skin condition kown as necrotizing fasciitis and even cerebellitis (infection of cerebellum).
Dr. Julia Sundel
Pediatrics 18 years experience
No: The vaccine is safe and effective. Chicken pox causes an itchy and uncomfortable rash that takes many days to heal. It also causes fever and weakness. Complications include bacterial skin infections, seizures, dizziness, tremors, headaches and unsteady walking. Go for the vaccine!

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