Health authorities have urged parents to vaccinate their children after up to a quarter of students at a primary school in Melbourne’s north were infected with chickenpox.
Of the 320 students who attend Brunswick North West Primary School, about 80 have been absent in recent days.
Acting Victorian chief health officer Professor Michael Ackland said while the exact number of students who had chickenpox was not known, it was understood to be the majority.
Immunisation against chickenpox is included in the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine which is given to children at 18 months.
Highly contagious viral disease, more common in winter and early spring
Symptoms include itchiness, low-grade fever, blistering skin rash, malaise
Children should not go to school until last blister has dried
Children and adults can be immunised
Most cases are mild and get better without medical treatment
The City of Moreland, the municipality which takes in the school, had a 94 per cent vaccination rate and about 75 per cent of students had provided vaccination certificates.
In a newsletter sent to parents on December 4, principal Trevor Bowen said the school welcomed students who were not immunised.
“Prospective students will not be prevented from enrolling in primary school if they have not been immunised,” he said.
“We expect all community members to act respectfully and with tolerance when interacting with other parents and carers who may have a differing opinion to their own.
“This includes an opposing understanding about child immunisation.
“I ask all community members to interact respectfully at all times and with a sense of tolerance and acceptance of diversity.”