This is one of the largest chickenpox outbreak North Carolina has ever seen. According to BBC News, one particular school is to blame for this.
The North Carolina school is said to have 152 students total with 110 of them not being vaccinated with for the varicella virus, according to Fox News. 67.9% of the school’s kindergarten students also have not been vaccinated, according to the Citizen-Times. This particular school has one of the state’s highest rates of religious exemption, meaning students are not required to be vaccinated. This school district is known for being a very large anti-vaccine community.
“This is the biggest chickenpox outbreak state health officials are aware of since the vaccine became available,” said a North Carolina Department of Health official to BBC news in an email statement. It is said that the school and the parents of the children are being fully co-operative with the local health officials and is being compliant with all of the North Carolina laws, claimed a spokesperson for the school.
Buncombe County, home to the city of Asheville, has a population of 250,000+ citizens. It has the highest rate of religious-based immunization exemptions in the state of North Carolina. Local health officials claim to be monitoring this situation closely, according to the county’s health department. “When we see high numbers of non-vaccinated children and adults, we known that an illness like chickenpox can spread easily throughout the community. This illness will spread into our playgrounds, grocery stores, and sports teams,” said Jennifer Mullendore, a local county doctor, in an official statement.
Many religions do not approve of vaccines and even some U.S. parents do not approve of vaccines due to the fact that they are fearful of adverse reactions to the vaccines. While some people have had bad reactions, like allergies, the medical community has debunked many of these common fears and many doctors are encouraging vaccines to prevent serious outbreaks, like the one taking place in North Carolina. Lakewood High School’s own Katie Booth said “the chickenpox is a very serious illness. It can lead to much more than red blisters covering your body. Getting vaccinated to prevent this is very important.”