CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Some are considering getting COVID-19 on purpose for the sake of natural immunity or “to get it over with.” Here’s why health experts say that’s a bad idea.

“It’s reminiscent of the chickenpox parties that they used to have,” said Laurie Cumpton, a registered nurse and Assistant Administrator for Bureau, Putnam, and Marshall County Health Departments.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is very likely many of us will end up with COVID-19, particularly with the high transmission of the Omicron variant.

Cumpton said exposing oneself to COVID-19 is a bad idea, and said hospitals in Central Illinois are too overwhelmed for people to risk getting a severe infection.

“You could, unfortunately, be one of the ones that needed to be hospitalized, and our hospitals are already imploding, and they’re crying out for help,” she said.

WMBD posted on Facebook, asking its followers for their thoughts on the idea of “Omicron parties,” or gatherings to intentionally contract the virus.

One user commented: “Personally, I believe exposure is how it shoulda been dealt with from the word go.”

Another commented: “Our family got covid over a long time, not on purpose. Looking back, all at once and altogether, seems more logical than 1 by 1.”

A third user said: “Sounds like another day being at work to me.”

Cumpton said if you want immunity, get vaccinated.

“I believe that the immunity you get from inoculation is so much better and longer-lasting,” she said, “and you cannot guarantee that immunity after infection will continue for more than three months.”

Unlike the chickenpox parties, Cumpton said getting COVID one time will not offer lifelong protection. While transmission of Omicron may be high, Central Illinoisans are still encouraged to avoid exposure as much as possible.