A pox on antivaxxers

Bad Astronomy

via A pox on antivaxxers.

On Facebook, parents belonging to an antivax group were encouraging others to send postal mail to each containing items like lollipops infected with saliva containing chicken pox.

I will give you a moment to pick your jaw up from off the floor. When you’re done, watch this:

I can hear jaws all over the world right now smashing right through the ground.

Yes, this is for real. The idea is to have what’s called a “Chicken pox party”, where parents purposefully infect their kids with a disease that can put them at great health risk, because they so strongly dislike the idea of vaccinating their children. This idea all by itself is incredibly bad — once you’re infected, the virus stays with you for life, putting you at risk for shingles as an adult, and can cause severe complications to people with compromised immune systems.

I understand that a lot of parents don’t think chicken pox is that big a risk. Many of us had it as a kid, and it wasn’t much more than an inconvenience. I had it, and I remember being miserable and itching like crazy, but that was about it.

But even so, sending a known biohazard through the mail? Does this not cause alarm bells to go off in anyone’s head? And rubella? Measles? Are you kidding me? Measles can kill.

Oh, also:

It’s come to this: a federal prosecutor is warning parents concerned about vaccinations that licking a stranger’s chicken pox lollipop is illegal.

“It’s a serious offense,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee told TPM. “It’s also extremely dangerous.”

The Associated Press reports that some parents have turned to a Facebook group — “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” — to connect with people and share the virus through lollipops or other objects that have an infected child’s saliva