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."