This week, press reports emerged that some parents, hoping to avoid giving their kids the chickenpox vaccine, were arranging through Facebook to pay strangers to send them "[licked] lollipops, spit or other items" from kids with the illness.
The idea is to expose the kids to the virus to build immunity without having to get a shot.
It's a lousy strategy, doctors say.
Dr. Wilbert Mason, a professor of clinical pediatrics at USC's Keck School of Medicine and an infectious disease expert at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said he was "dumbfounded" by the news. "I'm speechless, which will make for a very bad interview," he told Booster Shots. "How could people be so stupid?"
For starters, he said, sending chicken poxthrough the mail probably won't work, because the varicella virus needs cells to live in, and there probably would be very few cells in spit or on a used lollipop. "It's unlikely the virus would survive long enough," he said.
But more resilient types of infections -- dangerous ones -- could make it, including hepatitis B, group A strep, and staph germs.