Barbara Walters Has Chicken Pox: Why It's Important to Get it Early or Get Vaccinated


Whenever I hear the phrase “chicken pox,” I start to feel itchy. I waited until I was 20 to get this annoying communicable disease, while most of my friends had gone through their chicken pox stage decades earlier. And you know what? It sucked. I was miserable. I had wished I had gotten it when I was far younger so that I would not remember the torture so vividly. But that isn’t the only factor that plays into why I had wished I had gotten the chicken pox when I was a child —  it is a far less dangerous disease for kids than for adults. Thanks to a a now-common vaccine, chicken pox is far less common than it was when the vaccine was introduced in 1995, but kids and adults still get it. And this week it was announced that Barbara Walters, the legendary newswoman who is now 83, is currently in the hospital with a case of chicken pox.

For adults there are complications that can arise from a case of simple chicken pox including (as the Mayo Clincic notes): skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling in the brain), shingles, and painful joint inflammation. For kids, according to WebMD, “most cases of chickenpox are relatively mild and run their course in five to 10 days.” Yes, there are complications for kids, but generally those hit hardest are infants, adults, and those who have a compromised immune system.

So what does this mean for us parents? Well, we have a choice of getting our children vaccinated or skip it. Some parents, who haven’t jumped on the vaccination bandwagon, would rather have their children get chicken pox then give them the shots, giving them immunization for getting it as an adult the “natural way,” as the Wall Street Journal calls it. Hence why the chicken pox parties occasionally occur, upping the chance for children to be exposed and get the disease while they are still young. As for the vaccination, there is still a small chance (about 10% to 30%) that one who has had a chicken pox vaccination can still get it. But if someone who has been vaccinated does get the chicken pox, their symptoms will be mild. Personally, I wish I had either been vaccinated or had caught the chicken pox at a younger age. Spending two weeks at the age of 20 with itchy sores all of your body is not the way to go. I can’t imagine being a 83-year-old woman like Barbara Walters and catching the chicken pox.

Have you had your kids vaccinated against the chicken pox?

Photo Source: PR Photos

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