The XX Factor

Chicken Pox Lollipops Via Mail and Facebook

Lollipops: previously unappreciated for their spittle-transferring abilities.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Bloomingdale’s

A few days ago, I noted that as much as I wanted to condemn the non-vaccinating parents of my acquaintance, I knew them to be not idiots, but thoughtful, concerned people who wanted to do the right thing by their kids (even if I wholeheartedly disagreed with their interpretation of “the right thing”). I thought I might try politely raising the question with them again, or at least making my views known.

But these parents—I challenge you to convince me that idiot is not an excellent choice of descriptive term. An Arizona television news station is reporting that non-vaccinating parents who despair of finding a way to infect their children with chicken pox (intended to create natural immunity) are joining Facebook groups to acquire the virus through the mail.

According to the report, which included screenshots from the Facebook page for the group “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” (a closed group, but you can see pictures of its several hundred members), parents “post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.”


A Facebook post reads, “I got a Pox Package in mail just moments ago. I have two lollipops and a wet rag and spit.”  Another woman warns, “This is a federal offense to intentionally mail a contagion.”

Another woman answers, “Tuck it inside a zip lock baggy and then put the baggy in the envelope :) Don’t put anything identifying it as pox.”

Let’s try this sentence on for size: “I just gave my kid a pre-licked lollipop sent to me by a stranger I met on the Internet!” I suspect the “outing” of this practice by the media will also mark its public end. I’m sure we’re talking about a very, very small number of people here. But if chicken-pox-by-mail sounds like a good idea to you, then I’m going to have to abandon the polite conversation and bring out the verbal two-by-fours.