Eighty children get chickenpox at Brunswick North West Primary, a school that calls for ‘tolerance’ of vaccine dodgers

Dec 10, 2015

One in four of the children who attend a Brunswick school that calls for tolerance for vaccine dodgers has contracted chickenpox.
At least 80 of the 320 pupils at Brunswick North West Primary in Melbourne’s north have become ill with the disease in the past fortnight.

It is understood the illness spread through grade 6, before making its way through the lower levels to grade 2.
The Department of Health was first notified about the chickenpox cases on November 26.
“There are no firm figures on the number of students who have contracted the illness since then, but we’ve been advised that over the period there has been an absentee rate of about 25 per cent on any given day,” a department spokesman said.

The school has a lower immunisation rate than the state and national averages.
In the May newsletter, the school’s principal Trevor Bowen said 73.2 per cent of students were immunised, compared with 92 per cent within the local postcode.
In Victoria, the rate is 90.4 per cent, the newsletter says.

The school has previously asked parents to be tolerant of those with differing opinions on immunisation and there was still evidence of tension on Thursday between parents who did and those did not vaccinate their children.
Parent Sara McKenzie vaccinated her son Wesley, who is in grade one, but that didn’t stop him getting chickenpox.
She admits she was shocked that the rates of immunisation were so low at the school.

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23 comments on “Eighty children get chickenpox at Brunswick North West Primary, a school that calls for ‘tolerance’ of vaccine dodgers

  • The school has previously asked parents to be tolerant of those with differing opinions on immunisation(sic?) and there was still evidence of tension on Thursday between parents who did and those did not vaccinate their children.

    “Staff respect the rights of every family to make choices about immunisation and we will definitely not exclude children who are not fully immunised from our service,” the newsletter says.

    Also, “differing opinions” were mentioned. With a policy such as this in place one could accuse these people of promoting woo and endangering children. I see some of the immunized children were afflicted because the vaccination rates were not large enough to confer a good herd immunity.

    Can’t remember much about chickenpox, but any disease can have serious consequences for some and some maladies can have serious consequences for all.



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  • This isn’t about differing opinions, it’s about facts.

    And it’s entirely inappropriate to call for tolerance of those with “differing opinions” when the stakes can involve various degrees of disfigurement, acquisition of chronic illnesses, infertility(?) and even death.

    By making the school into a favourable environment for chicken pox to spread, it endangers not just the attending children but the wider community; and the wider community should have a say in this.



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  • sorry hit "report comment" my mistake. What with it being so helpfully close to the "reply" link (mods, look into that one why don't ya?)

    Because it’s not a moderator issue and not something we have the slightest control over. You can report technical issues direct to the technical team using the link on the Contact Us page.

    The mods



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  • It’s sad and unacceptable that these kids have suffered because their own parents don’t have the sense to vaccinate them against pathogens that could do serious damage and even kill the kids. This time it was chickenpox which is pretty much survivable but there are many other pathogens out there that will not be so mild.

    I read somewhere that part of the hesitation with these antivaccination bunch is that they are too young to have witnessed the various communicable diseases that swept through the population in the not so distant past. They’ve never seen anyone who has polio, a killer strain of influenza, measles, whooping cough or TB. My son contracted measles at nine months of age while in North Africa and it frightened me badly. At that time they were dealing with leprosy and TB at rates there that made me worried too.

    Thanks to the generations that went before them who were grateful for the benefits of medical science, young moms just don’t have a sense of the panic and horror of watching their own child fight for it’s life against an invading force of virus or bacteria while they stand by helpless to end the suffering. I can’t bring myself to say that this latest outbreak of chickenpox is a lesson well learned because those kids didn’t deserve to suffer like that. It’s blatantly cruel and unethical to say so, but somehow we need to convey to these moms that without vaccinations their child will probably be victims of communicable illnesses that will damage that child or even kill them.

    Could we require anti-vaccination parents to sign a legal disclosure that they understand that their child could suffer irreversible consequences and possibly painful agonizing death if they refuse to vaccinate and then watch some film footage showing some unfortunate cases of these children who are suffering from the very illnesses that our vaccinations prevent?

    Honestly, I don’t think that chickenpox will scare any of these parents but they are naive as to how devastating certain other illnesses really are.



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  • Is it routine to vaccinate against chickenpox in Australia? Here in the UK chicken pox is not one of the routine childhood vaccinations. Not the most useful example to choose for this article perhaps.



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  • In the Netherlands where I live, there is no vaccination available against chickenpox either. Most kids contract it at a young age without getting serious complications. Most parents here are relieved when their child gets chickenpox because it protects them from these complications when contracting it as an adult. About the other illnesses, I totally agree that these parents are being naive and are putting other children in danger as well as their own.



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  • Chicken pox may not be particularly debilitating for the children but they are now likely to develop shingles in their senior years: very unpleasant and debilitating for up to 1 year.



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  • We’re also in the UK, no vaccine is offered because Chickenpox is not considered serious. My daughters have both had it, the youngest at 6 weeks old – no ill-effects. The vast majority of adults have had it as children and rates of people developing shingles is very low. That said if a vaccine was available we probably would have taken up on it as we did for the other vaccines available. Those parents who withold them are harming their children far more than the vaccines are likely too and endanger other people who haven’t been able to get vaccinated.



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  • I am from the UK and we have strict rule over vaccines as given to all children. But as some had the vaccines and still caught Chickenpox that is interesting. Also if no child has died from Chickenpox and not dangerous perhaps this is over stated news. I wonder if those children who caught Chickenpox may have natural or even stronger antibodies in the future. Also the child could grew up a better person as all natural? W don’t really know about natural things anymore because of so many vaccines in people that is why I am wondering about natural develpment to see any changes in the children accedemically and so on. I think first test case in such a fresh country. So thinking there should not be a huge out pour from people or media at this time.



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  • Could we require anti-vaccination parents to sign a legal disclosure
    that they understand that their child could suffer irreversible
    consequences and possibly painful agonizing death if they refuse to
    vaccinate and then watch some film footage showing some unfortunate
    cases of these children who are suffering from the very illnesses that
    our vaccinations prevent?

    Excellent idea. Anyone care to put this together. I’d happily distribute leaflets and show the film in my school at our meetings for prospective parents.



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  • Jonathan Vince
    Dec 12, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Also if no child has died from Chickenpox and not dangerous perhaps this is over stated news.

    Chickenpox IS dangerous to people – especially adults without immunity, so allowing it to spread through the population puts these people at risk.
    It is also very unpleasant for heavily infected children.

    I wonder if those children who caught Chickenpox may have natural or even stronger antibodies in the future.

    Both the vaccine and the disease confer some future immunity.

    Also the child could grew up a better person as all natural?

    This is the fallacy of “Appeal to Nature”.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature
    An appeal to nature is a logical fallacy that occurs when something is assumed to be good because it is “natural” or bad because it is “unnatural”.



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  • I feel disillusioned. I’ve always believed that the all powerful mods on this site are the closest this universe will get to genuine gods. Now I find there are areas you don’t have power or control over.
    I guess I’ll have to adapt my belief system and develop a faith in ‘mods of the gaps’ whose authority will slowly be eroded as we find an increasing number of issues that can be explained by actions of the technical team.



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  • 17
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Because it’s not a moderator issue and not something we have the slightest control over. You can report technical issues direct to the technical team using the link on the Contact Us page.

    The mods

    I just reported the issue to them. If enough of us do it, they may pay attention and actually fix it.



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  • 18
    Landcruiser says:

    Jonathon Vince

    W don’t really know about natural things anymore because of so many vaccines in people that is why I am wondering about natural develpment to see any changes in the children accedemically and so on. I think first test case in such a fresh country.

    We do know about natural things because many diseases now prevented by vaccines used to kill or maim. ‘Natural things’ clearly weren’t working, (as we and the diseases evolve) and if it was simply a case of waiting for ‘natural’ to work, one may consider it had been given plenty of time. In other words, the diseases came first, were horrible and the invention of vaccines was the result. Done because it was needed.
    As for ‘first test case in a fresh country’?’ it would be unethical to infect un-vaccinated vs vaccinated and measure outcomes. Besides there is no need for anyone to even consider such a horrible experiment. All we have to do is look to countries with poor vaccination programs and compare the deaths and injuries of their children compared to vaccinated children. I believe the answer to this question is rather well known.



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  • I see some of the immunized children were afflicted because the vaccination rates were not large enough to confer a good herd immunity

    Really? Is this how “herd immunity” works? Sorry, but whichever view you take, this story leaves open the possibility that this vaccine isn’t all that effective and it’s not a daft idea to skip it. As with the other countries mentioned below (Netherlands, UK) where the vaccine isn’t promoted and the normal practice is to catch it young and become immune to future infection that way.

    It’s common to beat up on anti-vaxers on this forum, and mostly with very good reason, but this is not a good target, or at least that’s how it reads. Ineffective vaccine, not very bad illness, and blame the unvaccinated for causing the vaccinated to become infected. Accusations of being “woo-merchants” can fly both ways in this case, can’t they? Isn’t it “woo” to promote an ineffective but presumbaly profitable course of treatment?

    I’m almost waiting for the next news report – something like “vaccine for [insert disease here] found to cause more harm than good” – turning up in a reputable journal.

    Disclosure: fully vaccinated, me and my family, not chicken pox as it isn’t and was’t available or suggested, but all the serious stuff. Missed out on chicken pox when young, caught it aged 26 and it wasn’t a bit nice. Survived, but it did cost me quite a bit in lost income.



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  • I reported it last week, as requested by the mods. I also thought them to be omnipotent; we cease believing when proved wrong, the other crowd persist in belief, regardless of obvious fact.



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  • Chickenpox is not often dangerous to children. However it is very dangerous to adults. Even worse, childhood chickenpox can often lead to shingles in later life, as the virus lies dormant. I’ve never had shingles but it can be extremely painful and long term. Total vaccination would stand a very good chance of eliminating the disease.



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  • 22
    Pinball1970 says:

    Vaccine progs were developed for populations not individuals or mothers meeting discussion groups.
    If a child has not been vaccinated then that child should not be able to attend school and cannot be registered with the Drs.
    If a parent decides to remove them from the vaccination programme because it is their kid and their right etc then it is the health departments right that to demand child cannot play a part in the society and put the rest of the population at risk.

    As for doing things “naturally” this is a ridiculous notion.

    We did things naturally not so long ago, no vaccinations, dentists, refrigeration, Drs, midwifes, hospitals, scanners medicine and the results were not so good.

    Infant mortality / morbidity high, life expectancy 35, we had small pox, syphilis, typhoid cholera to contend with and death stalked the land like a ….great stalking thing.



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