South Carolina Department of Environmental Control informs public about varicella vaccine

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COLOMBIA, SC (Press Release) – In response to South Carolina’s first two chickenpox outbreaks since 2020, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging parents and providers to keep children informed about vaccinations to limit the spread of preventable diseases.

According to a DHEC press release, two chickenpox outbreaks were reported in early March 2022. The first case was reported on March 4 in the Low Country region in a childcare setting. The second was reported in the upstate region on March 10 at an elementary school.

South Carolina epidemiologist Dr Linda Bell issued a statement on the current cases: “These two outbreaks of chickenpox, along with a decline in childhood vaccination coverage, underscore the need for a renewed focus on maintaining recommended childhood vaccinations, we encourage parents to consult their children’s doctor to ensure that their child’s vaccination record is up to date.

DHEC advises the public that while chicken pox is usually not fatal, 10,500 to 13,000 people need to be hospitalized if not vaccinated. In order to control the disease and minimize the spread of chickenpox cases in child care settings, DHEC says people who are infected or unvaccinated should be excluded from where the outbreak occurred.

Officials say it is recommended that unvaccinated people exposed to chickenpox be excluded for 21 days after the last case is identified or allowed to return to group settings once they have received a dose of varicella vaccine appropriate for their age. Those who are ineligible for the vaccine due to age or medical condition must complete the exclusion period.

DHEC members believe that falling rates associated with routine childhood vaccinations will create a re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks of chicken pox, whooping cough, measles and other illnesses, all of which can lead to serious complications. which are unusual today due to the advantage of vaccination programs.

According to data collected by DHEC from the 45-Day School Vaccination Assessment, the percentage of school children with a valid vaccination certificate – a written statement from a doctor, nurse or documenting the date of vaccination – decreased from 98.1% in 2014-15 to 95.7% in 2021-22. Large outbreaks of highly communicable diseases such as measles have occurred in populations with less than 95% coverage.

You can make an appointment to receive certain vaccines, including influenza, pneumonia, chickenpox, and tetanus, at any of the DHEC county health departments by visiting scdhec.gov or calling the helpline at 1-855-472-3432.

For more information on vaccine requirements, visit the DHEC website: Mandatory Vaccines for Daycares and Schools. You can also read more about chickenpox on the agency’s website.

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