We all remember key moments growing up, moments where we have passed a milestone and we said to ourselves: “I’m all grown up now!”.
These little “rites of passage” were significant at a personal level, helping to create formative memories and is something we all continue to revisit and talk about in our adulthood.
At the age of twelve, we would gain our own identity card, which we would then proudly put into our wallets.
For the average Malaysian kid attending public school, we would also vividly remember the key examinations we had to go through. UPSR, PMR, SPM!
As we turned eighteen, feeling the post-SPM bliss, we would likely also be in the midst of acquiring our driver’s licence and be planning for college, which is a major transition and passage into adulthood for many.
So many rites of passage that have created fond memories in our minds and are probably topics we still bring up with our friends when we meet up for reunion dinners!
But what is probably one of the most memorable milestones that we can all recall from attending a public primary or secondary school is getting vaccinated along with our friends!
For most, it was a moment of simply bracing ourselves physically, not wanting to be that one person in your class who winced or worse, cried at the sight of a needle. And if you were stern-faced and went through with it like a champ, a sense of relief likely followed.
Then we would go home and proudly tell our parents that we got vaccinated and we definitely didn’t cry!
Applying lotion to itchy blisters as a symptom of chickenpox. Image for representation purpose only
Perhaps another “rite of passage” that you might recall from childhood would be outbreaks of chickenpox in school. Some of us might recall getting chickenpox and having itchy blisters all over our bodies1.
We might recall the nagging voice of our parents saying, “Don’t scratch! It will leave scars!” or remember them rubbing calamine lotion1 all over our bodies and looking like little pink dalmations from it!
But the thing is, this didn’t need to be a rite of passage at all!
Not for us, nor for our children now.
If you still think that it is a rite of passage for all children to get chickenpox, that is a myth we are debunking right now.
Firstly, it is not “normal” for all kids to get chickenpox. Especially since many children are vaccinated against chickenpox nowadays, the outbreak of the disease has been substantially curbed comparatively to when we were kids. It is a vaccine-preventable disease2.
Secondly, the disease is not something that we should “force” our kids to get so that they can build immunity against chickenpox. Vaccination can help to build Immunity. Not to mention, the disease can cause serious complications that can even lead to death3.
Some of the complications that can happen if a child gets chickenpox include bacterial skin infection, blood stream infection, pneumonia or even inflammation of the brain, known as encephalitis1!
This is definitely not something we would want our children to ever endure! Not when there are preventive measures!
So what can parents do to make sure this “rite of passage” never has to happen to their kids?
- Ask your doctor about immunisation against chickenpox.
- Keep your kids at home if you know about an outbreak in school.
- Teach your kids basic health and hygiene habits.
- Ensure your child is healthy with balanced nutrition, getting enough sleep and keeping them in a healthy environment
We would recommend speaking to your healthcare provider about the ways you can help protect your child from getting chickenpox, as you now know that it is not a “rite of passage” they need to go through!
- PORTAL MyHEALTH.Chickenpox. Available From: https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/chickenpox/. Last Accessed 20 August 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chickenpox (Varicella). Available From: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/prevention-treatment.html. Last Accessed 14 September 2022.
- Centre for Health Protection. Department of Health – The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Chickenpox. Available From: https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/15.html. Last Accessed 22 August 2022.