Chickenpox outbreak at Porter charter school
Post-Tribune Staff Report September 26, 2013 7:06PM
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:40AM
PORTER — Discovery Charter School is taking action to stem a chickenpox outbreak, triggered by children who have not been vaccinated for the contagious disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and an Indiana law require children to be excluded from school if they haven’t been vaccinated and there’s an outbreak of the disease.
Initial reports Thursday said six children at the school have chickenpox and about 40 students were excluded from school because they hadn’t been vaccinated.
Porter County Board of Health Director of Nursing Connie Rudd said county nurses were at the school Thursday and 14 children were injected with the varicella vaccination.
Vaccinations against a variety of diseases are a school requirement, but some parents opposed to the vaccinations can file a waiver with the school.
“If there is an outbreak and a child is not vaccinated against it, they have no immunity and they’re excluded from school to protect them,” Rudd said.
She said each instance of chickenpox is reported to the Indiana State Board of Health by law. She said an outbreak is typically five or more children in the same school or environment.
Discovery Charter, 800 Canonie Drive, has nearly 500 students enrolled.
Principal Ernesto Martinez could not be reached for comment, but the school’s website listed information on chickenpox, saying it can cause a rash, fever, itchiness and lead to a skin infection, scars, pneumonia and brain damage.
According to the CDC, chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that is very uncomfortable and sometimes serious. The vaccine is made from weakened varicella virus that produces an immune response in the body that protects against chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine was licensed for use in the U.S. in 1995.
There were chickenpox outbreaks last year in Vigo and Ripley counties.
Since the early 1980s, children have been receiving vaccinations against chickenpox, typically between age 1 and 2 for the first dose and ages 4 to 6 for the second dose.