Anti-Vaccine Group Crosses the Line with Chickenpox-Laced Lollipop

Just when you were wondering if you should throw out the rest of that Halloween candy, here’s an idea. In an ironic twist in this era of overprotective parenting — where every grocery cart handle is wiped down by a parental SWAT team and every home, school, and business stockpiles hand sanitizer by the gallon — a group of parents who are against vaccines wants to ship the chickenpox virus, via infected lollipops, through the U.S. mail.

The receiver of such a package is meant to give the diseased lollipop to his or her children, tell them to lick it and then pass it around to their friends. The purpose is to ensure exposure to the virus so the kids don’t have to get vaccinated. The organizers created a Facebook page called “Find a Pox Party in Your Neighborhood,” which, according to Babble, was, “helping to arrange shipments of contaminated objects — jammies, blankets, suckers.”

A more traditional form of forced chickenpox contagion has been around for some time and doesn’t involve lollipops. In these “regular” garden-variety pox transmission groups, a child comes down with the varicella virus and has a party. Other parents bring their kids so they’ll catch the virus, too. Then no one has to get vaccinated, which the parents fear may cause autism, and none of them will contract chickenpox as adults when it’s more dangerous.

But, orchestrating the spread of a virus with the help of Facebook and then sending it through the mail — that’s new.

It’s also problematic in so many ways. First, it’s illegal to send diseases or viruses across state lines. Second, do you really want to give your child a lollipop that was licked by a stranger? Who knows what else is on the thing?

Potentially anything, according to Dr. Wilbert Mason, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Mason tells the Los Angeles Times, “It’s unlikely the [varicella] virus would survive long enough. … But more resilient types of infections — dangerous ones — could make it, including hepatitis B, group A strep, and staph germs.”

And Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle pediatrician, tells

“It’s not that your child can’t get chickenpox if he’s vaccinated. But the illness will be much less severe and the likelihood of infecting other children is essentially zero. But we’re giving the shot to prevent the serious, life-threatening complications that can come along with the virus, such as a brain infection or flesh-eating bacteria in the sores. We can’t tell which kids will have a run-of-the-mill, mild version of chickenpox, and which will go on to have the deadly secondary infections.”

Weighing all the evidence, I think it’s safe to say we should just keep our lollipops to ourselves. In fact, this sounds to me like doctor’s orders to get back to that Halloween candy and finish it off before anyone gets any ideas.