How officials handle chickenpox and vaccination exemptions

Maryland

According to the Washington County Health Department, there are many things that need to be taken care of when handling a contagious disease.

For the health department, there are two ways to notify officials of a contagion: a lab report and a form.

“Then we would be doing follow-up questions and investigating, because that’s a state requirement. There’s certain diseases that are mandatory to be investigated at the state level,” said Micke Brown, community health nurse.

The chickenpox is one of these diseases, however, some families do not participate in vaccinations. The Buncombe County Health Department, which has been handling a chickenpox outbreak in North Carolina, attributed the situation to vaccination exemptions.

“They can decline, but they either have the physician say there’s a reason, a medical reason, why this child can’t get vaccinated, or if they have a religion exemption, they have to make sure that paperwork is filled out every year,” said Brown.

As per Maryland regulations, children are allowed to be exempt unless the secretary of health and mental health declares an emergency or an epidemic of disease. 

“So that’s what’s so tricky about chickenpox, it’s airborne. We would put people, if they were in the hospital, certainly put them in what we would call respiratory isolation or airborne isolation so that they’re not spreading to other people,” Brown said.

The health department also warns individuals who had chicken pox to be wary of shingles.

“Those are very uncomfortable, and can develop into post shingles pain that you can live with for a lifetime,” said Brown.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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