The following was written by Candice Davenport, Public Health Nurse at the Maplewood Health Department. Davenport has a BSN degree and a Masters in Public Health and Community Health Education.
The recent occurrence of chickenpox (varicella) in our school district brings home the importance of up to date immunizations, especially in a child’s developmental school age years. In order to prevent any further spread of vaccine preventable diseases like chickenpox, measles and pertussis, please follow the recommended vaccination schedule provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/index.html. This webpage provides the recommended schedule for all age groups for infants, school age children and beyond. And yes, even moms and dads and grandparents need vaccination boosters too, even all the more important if you are caregiver of a young infant or a child with a weakened immune system.
Every year, the Maplewood Health Department conducts immunization audits at our childcare centers and schools. In partnership with our school nurses and childcare directors, we work together to ensure that all childrens’ immunizations are up to date to provide ‘herd immunity’ among our students. The township also provides influenza vaccination clinics during the fall and winter as a service to our residents.
Vaccinations are one of the top ten achievements of public health and we have made great strides to eradicate diseases such as polio and rubella. But diseases do not stop spreading and this event highlights that in our present day, we are still vulnerable to preventable diseases like chickenpox, or pertussis, measles and other bacterial and viral diseases.
It is important to remember that if you or your child does not feel well, to please stay home if you are sick; this not only pertains to absence from school but also afterschool activities to reduce the spread of disease to others.
If you have any questions about chickenpox or the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/downloads/PL-dis-chickenpox-bw-office.pdf
Finally, diseases like chickenpox in the community are few and far between in the last decade. Hard to believe when some of us can remember getting chickenpox as a rite of passage in childhood. However as with all vaccine preventable diseases, they are communicable diseases which means they can spread within a community by close contact, sneezing or coughing. There are also avoidable health complications that can occur with these illnesses.
Let’s keep our children (and ourselves!) healthy. Make sure their vaccinations are up to date- at any age.