It’s one thing to have concerns about the possible harmful effect of vaccines and/or not vaccinate one’s children due to these fears. While the anti-vaccine community will vigorously defend their concerns and choices, other will strongly criticize the need for these fears and the decision not to vaccinate with standard vaccines.
Regardless of what side you come down on, the decision not to vaccinate is not illegal if the parent(s) cites a religious objection or health reason that contra-indicates the need for a vaccine. But it is quite another thing for parents to take vaccination fears to such an extreme that they purchase lollipops, saliva, Q-tips, or other items over the internet that are infected with chicken pox and other bacteria in an attempt to vaccinate their children against the disease.
Although this may sound unbelievable, it is true. There is a Facebook page entitled “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” that allows people to connect who want to share viruses through the mail to naturally vaccinate their children. Here is what one of the messages on the page says from the administrator of the page: "Warning. The mailing of infectious items, such as lollipops, rags, etc, is a federal offense. This page is not private and can been seen by members and non members alike. You may post on the page that you have the pox and are willing to share but please keep your specifics in private messages between members.”
I’m not a
lawyer, but it seems to me that the administrator is readily acknowledging that
mailing these viruses are a federal crime but endorses people using the page to
find others to carry out a crime. Some of the posters are charging $50.00 for
infected materials. The page is not limited to people seeking natural immunity
to chicken pox, however, as some posters have actively sought items tainted
with measles. This is more concerning because measles is a more serious disease
as it is more deadly and has more complications.
Regardless of the bacteria (or virus), no one should be sending these materials through the
mail. The infected materials could contain other serious diseases that the
parent is unaware of, such as hepatitis. How effectively these diseases can be
transmitted is questionable, but it is possible, particularly when one proposed
method is drinking another child’s saliva sent through the mail.
While social media has so many positive benefits to offer patients and healthcare
providers, this is one of the negative sides. Healthcare providers need to be
aware of this issue and dissuade parents from taking this route. For parents
caught doing this, regardless of how correct they believe their views to be, they will likely find themselves facing serious
federal charges in addition to the health hazards potentially inflicted on
When I wrote this entry on 11/6/11, the Facebook page mentioned above was still open to the public. Later that night, it was gone, perhaps due to fears the administrators and participants had about federal prosecution.