Susan’s Story (Chickenpox)

It was 1997, I was 5 years old. The chickenpox vaccine had come out only a few years prior, and there was some apprehension about it, understandably. The biggest questions being why? Why should parents get their kids vaccinated if getting the chickenpox provides immunity anyway? Well … vaccines provide many important things, the most important being they help build the body’s immunity. Vaccines don’t necessarily stop someone from getting sick, but when vaccinated people do get sick, the illness is less severe. People did not understand that, and many still don’t. So my parents didn’t get me and my two older brothers vaccinated against chickenpox.

And my brother Matt got chickenpox. It wasn’t too bad, a real mild case. Then my brother Chris got chickenpox. It was a little worse, but still not too bad. Then I got chickenpox. And it was bad, really bad. I nearly died … from chickenpox, of all things. I was out of school for over a week. I went to the doctor’s office three times in one week. I had over 200 pox covering my tiny body. The blisters were so bad, the skin peeled off in one sheet on my toes. I have pox scars covering my face, chest, and legs. Some of the bad ones are almost a millimeter deep. And more than 23 years later, I’m constantly finding more pox scars. All because my mom didn’t get us vaccinated.

We are not immortal. Even the simplest, most mundane of childhood illnesses can be deadly.