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Unvaccinated People Highly Susceptible To Chickenpox

Aired 6/3/13 on KPBS News.

People who haven't been vaccinated against chickenpox are vulnerable to the disease, as demonstrated by a recent outbreak in a Carlsbad elementary school.

— San Diego County health officials say a recent outbreak of chickenpox at a Carlsbad elementary school provides a good lesson. Four kids and one adult who became sick were not immunized.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that causes an itchy rash and a fever. It's also preventable through two doses of the chickenpox vaccine.

Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, the disease would sicken about four million Americans each year.

Dr. Eric McDonald, San Diego County's deputy public health officer, said chickenpox is especially dangerous for adults.

"If you've ever taken care of somebody who is very ill from chicken pox, which I have, then you have respect for the illness, and realize that it makes sense that the entire population be immunized," Dr. McDonald said.

One of the school children who got sick in the recent outbreak had been immunized. The chickenpox vaccine is said to 98 percent effective.

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Avatar for user 'Roxie76'

Roxie76 | June 4, 2013 at 6:36 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago "Placed another call to the Indiana State Department of Health. Was able to reach the epidemiologist working the chicken pox outbreak. There are a total of 92 cases so far. Only 3 were never vaccinated. 10 had received one vaccine and 79 were fully vaccinated. They are seeing fewer lesions in the fully vaccinated. Zero deaths. Possibly one hospitalization but not sure off the top of their head. Zero complications from chicken pox. We were told that only one chicken pox vaccine was supposed to provide lifelong immunity but this did not turn out to be the case. A booster was added and yet we are seeing a very high rate of fully vaccinated children contracting chicken pox. We asked if another booster will be mandated and told possibly. We asked about vaccine failures and were told this is not vaccine failure because the severity of lesions in the fully vaccinated was less than if never vaccinated and that no vaccine is 100% effective. We were told that if vaccines save one life they are worth it. We asked how many children died from chicken pox before the vaccine. This epidemiologist was unsure."

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