Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pre-sucked Suckers Make Me Sick

By Melanie Mouzoon, MD, FAAP   
Managing Physician, Immunization Practices and Travel Medicine, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston


Hundreds of parents across the country apparently think that it is safer and better for their children to acquire full-strength disease-producing chickenpox virus from lollipops and cotton swabs contaminated with the spit of unknown infected children than to receive recommended vaccination with weakened virus that is free of contaminants and produces only mild illness, if any (CNN story). 

The irony is that these parents are themselves “inoculating” their children. It sounds a lot like smallpox vaccination to me. Take some pus from a cow-pox blister on the hand of a milkmaid, or the udder of a cow, scratch the skin of a child with that live virus and you have the original form of immunization.

Of course, now we refine immunization so that you don’t get all of the other stuff that comes with pus – or spit for that matter!

Maybe they are actually hopeful that their child could acquire more than just chickenpox, and get the supposed benefit of “natural” infection with other viruses that could be transmitted on that sucker (such as herpes, coxsackie, cytomegalovirus, flu, respiratory syncytial virus or hepatitis). Some of these cause blisters in the mouth or on the skin like chickenpox, and can be confused with them in the early stages.

Many of the parents who refuse vaccines think that pediatricians promote them simply to turn a buck. So why do they not question paying $50 for “shipping” a dirty lollipop overnight? Express mail for that should only run about $10 at best. Maybe it is to cover the legal fees for the sender, who violates federal laws against intentionally sending infectious agents through the mails and across borders.

Let’s look at a head-to-head comparison:

Lollipops Varicella Shot
Sweet and tasty A brief pinch when injected
Sick for a week, missing school and work Sore for a day, maybe rash in a week
Extra germs and infections, free! No bonus germs
Contagious to others Rarely contagious
$50 Insurance covered or $15

Varicella immunization is a safe, effective way to avoid the misery and cost of a case of chickenpox. It is free from dangerous contaminants, a much better alternative to mail-order saliva. As if you needed me to tell you that!

This article was originally posted at on Dr. Mouzoon’s Hot Shots blog. To learn more about Dr. Mouzoon, visit

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