A note was sent home to parents of kids at Maple Valley Junior and Senior High School from the Barry Eaton District Health Department. Health officials report three ninth-graders at the school have the chicken pox. This is a highly contagious and dangerous illness for teenagers and adults.
"The risk of complications from getting the chicken pox is more serious than it is had they had the illness when they were toddlers or early in elementary school," said Dr. Dean Sienko of the Barry Eaton District Health Department.
Most middle and high school students, and adults are immune to chicken pox either because they had the illness or because they've been vaccinated. But because the state did not require the varicella vaccine for school-bound kids until 2002, and for day-care kids until 2000, there may be some in this age group that fell through the cracks.
Staff and students at Maple Valley who are not immune were vaccinated Wednesday, but the message goes beyond this school to all parents. Parents of children who may have missed the required vaccine, and have not had the illness need to get a shot right away as the illness is still out there.
The vaccine given three to five days after exposure will help prevent or reduce the severity of the chicken pox.
For more information, talk to your family doctor or call the Barry Eaton District Health Department at 517-541-2641.