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Vax exemption sees chickenpox outbreak in North Carolina school

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A school in North Carolina with a high vaccination religious exemption rate has experienced that State’s worst outbreak of chickenpox in more than 20 years.

By the end of November, 36 students at Asheville Waldorf School had contracted the varicella virus, most commonly known as chickenpox.

It is the largest outbreak there since the disease’s vaccine became available more than two decades ago.

The school has one of the highest vaccination exemption rates in the North Carolina.

Dr Jennifer Mullendore of Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services said the outbreak was concerning, even though chickenpox is not usually life-threatening.

Two to three out of every 1,000 children infected with chickenpox required care in a hospital, she said.

“People don’t think it’s a serious disease, and for the majority of people it’s not. But it’s not that way for everybody,” Dr Mullendore said.

“To me, that’s not a mild disease, and if you’re the parent of one of those children, you probably don’t think so either.” 

Asheville Waldorf School has 152 students and 110 of them have not received the chickenpox vaccine, which was made available in the United States in 1995.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the school had a higher rate of religious exemptions for vaccination than all but two other schools in all of North Carolina.

 

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