LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) — With news of how contagious the omicron variant is and surging cases in recent weeks, many have felt like there is no way around contracting the virus any longer.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that parents have been questioning if exposing their children to COVID-19 at a ‘COVID party’ would have the same herd immunity effect as chickenpox always has.
Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency medicine physician with Central Emergency Physicians in Lexington, Ky., tells Nexstar’s WDKY that the comparison has been trending lately, but it needs to be addressed with facts.
”We used to see chickenpox parties, and that made sense because it was milder in children and as people got older,” Stanton said. “And the death rate with chickenpox was incredibly low anyway, but with COVID we’re still seeing significant risk, hospitalizations, long-term complications, and death.”
While Stanton recognizes many want to just “get it over with,” he advises to go and get a vaccine rather than seeking herd immunity.
“It’s basically taking a riskier version of the vaccine exposure, so if you want to ‘get it over with,’ just get the vaccine,” Stanton said.
Dylan Allen is a father of two children and said comparing the coronavirus to chickenpox is like comparing “apples to oranges.”
“As far as a COVID party, we’re looking for the accomplishment of immunity, in my opinion, we don’t have that research yet,” Allen said. “If we were able to look 10 years down the road and have a clear understanding of the COVID virus, you’re good for the next 10 years, then yes, the philosophy is there. However, we don’t have that research.”
Other types of ‘COVID parties’ have resurfaced on social media once again.
One University of Kentucky student, Potomac Rubbins, said he has seen videos about COVID parties on TikTok but doesn’t agree it’s safe.
Stanton said research is showing the omicron variant has no proof of leaving people with long-lasting immunity, therefore COVID parties are an unnecessary risk.
He also points out that through history, the human body has shown it does not build up a great response to any virus which is why we have influenza every year.