Angelina Jolie has chickenpox, and a passel of NHL players suffers at home with mumps. What’s going on?
Adults are getting knocked sideways by childhood illnesses because (1) when they were children, they missed one or more recommended vaccines, (2) there were no vaccines for certain diseases when they were young, or (3) the protection they received as children from vaccines is waning.
It’s also possible that a vaccine simply didn’t work for this or that person. It happens.
I was already an adult when the chickenpox vaccine first became available. A couple of years prior to the release of that vaccine, my little nephew became infected. He was miserable, and as his parents were out of town, I was the go-to person.
I bathed him in cool water to help bring down his temperature (does that really work?). I cuddled with him, and generally took care of him until his parents came home.
A couple of weeks later, my face erupted in what I thought were spectacularly huge pimples. They flattered my shiny new adult braces and first-ever pair of glasses.
I could not understand why I was breaking out, and then I remembered. My nephew.
I called my mom to see if I’d had chickenpox as a kid, and you already know the answer.
Well, that was a long time ago, and I can happily report my nephew and I had complete recoveries.
All this is to say that diseases lurk. It doesn’t matter how old or young we are, if we’re not protected, we’re open to infection. And, diseases from our childhood pose just as much risk to us as adults.
It takes one phone call or email to the healthcare provider’s office. Ask about all vaccine-preventable diseases, and where you are in your level of protection.
by Trish Parnell