My husband tried to kill a wolf spider in our garage one morning last week.

When he swatted at it, hundreds of baby spiders clinging to mama’s back fled in all directions. Mama Spider got away, and so did lots of babies. I can only imagine how quickly my husband came awake in that moment. He’s pretty spooked by spiders in general. As he put it, “It was like that scene in ‘The Mummy’ where the scarab beetles are spreading all over the floor.”

Me, I’m spooked by bugs, too, but by the much tinier kind — microbes, viruses, bacteria. The thought of one of those little guys hurting my babies sets my teeth on edge. We are so lucky to be living in a time and place where there are few cases of measles, where your child probably won’t die of cholera or typhoid and where polio doesn’t spread.

Why are we this lucky? Because we immunize our kids. My aunt had polio as a child. She had to spend time in an iron lung and learn how to walk again. Thank goodness polio is almost eradicated from the earth. Measles can kill — or blind — your child. It has a 90 percent infection rate in people who aren’t vaccinated.

I had such bad chickenpox as a kid that I still carry the scars on my left eyebrow. My mom tried to cover my little hands with baby-sized socks. I was a remarkably wiggly child — my nickname was Wiggle Worm — and I defeated all her efforts to keep me from scratching.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case of chickenpox in real life. I’ve only seen it on Google images, which is where I went hunting when my son started sporting a weird rash this weekend. Chickenpox starts with a little cough, maybe a fever, WebMD said. The appetite is diminished. Then the red patches and itchiness set in.

My son had the cough, the rash. It spread from his belly button up to his shoulder, around to his back, and down to his thigh. But he wasn’t itchy at all, and nothing dents this child’s appetite. I was puzzled, but not too worried. After all, both of my children have been vaccinated for chickenpox.

I hoped I could get a morning appointment at the pediatrician’s office. When you think your child has chickenpox, you don’t get to sit in the waiting room. This virus is so contagious that you must knock at the side door and wait to be let in by a nurse. I felt like a leper, swinging a bell and bellowing, “Unclean! Unclean!”

It took two pediatricians to decide that it wasn’t chickenpox. Even better, they decided that whatever it was, it wasn’t contagious. They gave him the OK for school attendance. I was glad I wouldn’t have to burn through a vacation day — or more — of work. I was dreading telling my boss that I’d be out for 10 days or more.

Wouldn’t you protect your children from anything — anything! — that threatens them? You’d jump in front of a speeding train for your baby’s sake, right?

This is one way you can be a superhero and throw the first punch.

Get your kids immunized.

> Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenLeeGamble; read her blog at

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