A mother in the U.K. is calling for the chickenpox vaccine to be made available for all children under the National Health Service after her 2-year-old son was hospitalized with what doctors said was the worst case of chickenpox they had ever seen.
Sarah Allen, a mother of two, was reportedly turned away by her doctor's receptionist when she tried to make an appointment for her son, Jasper, whose severe chickenpox covered his entire body. He also had a fever.
"When I first called our local GP's [office] I spoke to the receptionist to make an appointment for Jasper, but when I told her it was chickenpox she said to me, 'Every mother thinks their child has bad chickenpox,'" Allen told the Mirror.
Two days later Jasper was in the hospital, where he remained for five days.
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"Everyone's reactions in the hospital were just complete shock over how severe it was," Allen said. "The doctors all wanted to come and see this worst ever case of chickenpox."
While Allen is upset her doctor's office did not take Jasper's illness seriously, her main target is the country's health care policies, which do not cover chickenpox vaccinations for all children.
"We are one of the only countries who do not routinely vaccinate against chickenpox," she said. "Europe, the USA and Australia all now do. My kids have had all their immunizations, but this was not something that ever crossed my mind to vaccinate them against privately."
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With that said, Allen does not want people to think that she's advocating for mandatory chickenpox vaccination.
"I don’t want this to be a debate about vaccination," she said. "I don't care if you do not want to vaccinate your child, but sign the petition [drawn up by Allen herself] so everyone else has the choice."
In response to Allen's advocacy, a spokesperson for the Department of Health had this to say:
"Chickenpox is usually a mild illness in children, with most recovering quickly. The vaccine is not routinely offered to children, although the government's expert vaccination advisors are reviewing this. The vaccine aims to protect those who are at risk from serious illness. That's why it is recommended for children with family members who are undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy which can affect immunity."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of vaccine for children, as well as adults who haven't had the disease yet. This is about 90 percent effective in preventing chickenpox, according to the CDC website.
"When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself and others in your community," the website says. "This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women."