My Vaccinated Son Has Chickenpox – Sort of

02.23.15

My kid has Chickenpox.

Alexander spent the night at a friend’s house Friday and then the day running around with three other boys Saturday so when he was tired and said his throat was feeling scratchy Saturday night there was no reason to be alarmed. When he woke up with a cough and his throat hurting Sunday we just decided to lay low, it’s a cold, right? When he took his shirt off to show me the red spots on his chest I immediately consulted Dr. Google, my stepfather a retired radiologist (basically a pediatrician right?) and a couple of Mom friends. Around here that’s how we practice medicine.

breakthrough chickenpox

I brought him to the pediatrician this morning, thinking that perhaps a home diagnosis might not be sufficient and she confirmed for us a few things:

  • Vaccinated kids sometimes get Breakthrough Chicken Pox. These are very mild cases, not nearly as contagious as a real case and no where near as uncomfortable. In fact Alexander is fever free, many people are.
  • The only way to be 100% certain that this is Breakthrough Chickenpox is with a blood test. If it is Breakthrough Chickenpox he will be better before the test is back from the lab.
  • Breakthrough Varicella (Chickenpox) is no big deal if everyone in the house has a robust immune system. I do not. This bugs me.

He can go back to school when his throat doesn’t hurt and the lesions are scabbed over. So in theory he could go tomorrow but I’m going to give it one more day to be sure no more pox appear.

Of course I called the school to let them know but according to The Hollywood Reporter less than 5% of the students at Alexander’s school aren’t immunized so it’s unlikely that anyone will get terribly ill. Then I got to text the moms whose kids were hanging out with mine this weekend.

Hi all. Sunday morning Alexander woke up feeling a little crummy & then developed some bumps on his chest. The doctor thinks it’s a case of breakthrough chickenpox. It’s very mild because he’s been vaccinated and less contagious because he’s been vaccinated. Everyone else in the house is okay. If your boys don’t have the vaccine you might want to watch them for any sort of bumps or rashes on their torsos. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (and germs).

Seven sentences with some form of the word vaccine used three times. Why? Because in addition to feeling horrible for my kid I am hopeful that no one else’s kid gets sick and I want them to know that I’ve done everything I can as a mother to make sure my kids don’t have or spread preventable diseases.  The vaccine debate has turned a childhood illness into an act of warfare and I do not intend to get speared behind enemy lines.

I’m grateful that he’s fully immunized because Breakthrough Chickenpox is like a distant cousin of the hell I endured with Chickenpox as a teen. Now here’s hoping it doesn’t spread.