By vaccinating against chickenpox you lessen the chance of shingles in later life.
By vaccinating against chickenpox you lessen the chance of shingles in later life.

Vaccine can prevent blindness

PARENTS of newborns are being encouraged to have their children immunised for chickenpox after a report found more than 900 North Coast children seemed overdue.

Marianne Trent, immunisation co-ordinator for the Lismore Public Health Unit was so concerned at the apparent low uptake since vaccination became available in 2005, she sent out a questionnaire.

Following this, about 400 children have now had their immunisation confirmed, but a further 500 remain unprotected.

About 5% of respondents conscientiously objected to vaccination generally, Ms Trent was most concerned about a further 6% who planned to wait for their child to get the "natural disease".

"We still hear about chickenpox parties which is a very unwise thing to do - you don't want your kids getting it because of the other risks," she said.

"We don't get many deaths from chickenpox in Australia, because we have a good health system, but it's a very serious disease.

"Once you've had chickenpox you can get shingles, particularly in older people, which can cause blindness if you get it in the eyes - by vaccinating against chickenpox you lessen the chance of shingles in later life.

"It can make kids quite sick but if you get it as a young adult you can get very sick ... there is the risk of things like encephalitis which can cause severe disease including the risk of brain damage."


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