Apparently the concept of "it's never too late" can apply to things like childhood diseases, too. Just ask Barbara Walters: The 83-year-old news pro has the chicken pox! While in the hospital for an injury sustained after falling and hitting her head at a pre-inauguration party on January 19, Walters developed a fever that wouldn't go away. Considering her 2010 heart surgery, Walters was probably somewhat relieved to be diagnosed with chicken pox as the cause -- but the itchy illness can be super-serious in older patients (especially if it turns into pneumonia). Which leads to the question: Why wasn't Walters vaccinated? Which leads to the larger question: Why isn't everybody vaccinated?
Full disclosure: My two kids both received the chicken pox vaccine, but not because I was particularly concerned about them getting chicken pox, which used to be considered a fairly benign (if incredibly unpleasant) childhood rite of passage.
No, I agreed to the chicken pox vax after watching a friend go through an epic battle with her kids' school because they weren't vaccinated. After talking to my pediatrician about possible risks and weighing the pros and cons, the choice to get my kids vaccinated seemed to make the most sense. And we haven't had any problems in the years since.
Full disclosure (again): I made a different choice for myself. See, like Barbara Walters (well, not really, but you know what I mean), I'm one of those random adults who never had the chicken pox growing up. So when I was getting my kids vaccinated, their pediatrician gave me the whole speech about how it's much more dangerous for adults and so on and so forth, and maybe I should really think about getting vaccinated too, etc. But I was afraid, to be perfectly honest. Because you know those "rare" side effects they warn you about in super tiny print? I ALWAYS get those. So if I don't absolutely positively have to get something or take something or have something done to me, I don't.
Which is why I feel for Barbara Walters. Maybe she has similar issues. Maybe she doesn't. Point is, the decision to vaccinate isn't always easy. If we make the right one, we should consider ourselves fortunate.
Did you get the chicken pox vaccine for your kids?