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MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2005
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EDITORIAL

All children should get chickenpox vaccination

Plenty of people alive today will remember when a child came down with chickenpox, and moms and dads didn't worry about exposing other children in the home.

In fact, some thought the sooner all the children had chickenpox, a one-time occurrence disease, the better off all would be.

But parents then didn't have the information available today. Most didn't know that chickenpox can be deadly. It's just been in the past year that U.S. deaths from chickenpox dropped to the lowest level ever after a vaccine to prevent the childhood disease was introduced in 1995, a study shows.

In the five years before the vaccine, chickenpox caused or contributed to an average of 145 deaths each year. That dropped to 66 in just a few years, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The death rate was slashed by as much as 92 percent in the 1-to-4-year-old group.

That's great news.

Perhaps the best thing that could have happened is when most school systems nationwide started requiring proof of vaccination against chickenpox and other contagious childhood diseases.

It's required here in the Tennessee Valley and should be required in the 15 percent of schools that don't.

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