The group responsible for bringing Vaxxed, an anti-vaccine movie, to Australia and New Zealand is still causing issues in our country. There are more screenings of Vaxxed coming up, including one in Wellington that I will try to attend:

Apparently people are already working on Vaxxed 2 😦

The group made the news this week when a member of their Facebook group posted that she was running a Chicken Pox party in North Shore, Auckland:

These "parties" are organised by people for various diseases - chicken pox, measles, mumps, etc. When a child has a communicable disease, the parents will organise for other children to come around for a party with the intent of them catching the disease. On face value it appears to make sense for some diseases, where catching the disease and building immunity early in life is less dangerous than catching it later in life. For example, chicken pox can give people shingles later in life and many diseases are more dangerous for pregnant women than for the rest of the population.

Of course, the level of danger is a relative thing - there are still risks involved and children's lives can be put at risk from contracting diseases like chicken pox - especially if they have other medical issues. Complications include:

  • Skin infections
  • Scarring
  • inflammation of the joints
  • inflammation of the brain
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • bronchiolitis

People often defend these parties by saying that serious medical issues are rare, and that most kids don't end up being hospitalised. Of course, when you compare that to the track record of vaccines, vaccination turns out to be safer - but for the anti-vaccine crowd, they don't trust the medical establishment ("big pharma") and don't believe the evidence that vaccines are safe relative to the diseases they protect against.

People on the Facebook post have been asking for swabs from infected children to be sent to them, including internationally to Australia. Unsurprisingly this is illegal, as we have biosecurity laws that prohibit sending communicable diseases through the mail.