The issue of vaccinating is one that is constantly at the forefront with parents and schools alike. It’s controversial and always sparks a debate from both sides. The anti-vaxxers claim that it’s their right to choose, while parents of vaccinated children fear for the health of their children.
Now a chickenpox outbreak has occurred at a Melbourne primary school which actively welcomes children who have not been immunised. Up to 80 of the 320 students at Brunswick North West Primary School have been infected over the past fortnight.
The first case was reported to the Victorian Department of Health on November 26.
In a newsletter issued to parents in December, the school stated: “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.”
“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.”
It is believed the outbreak started in the school’s grade six class, before spreading down to the second grade.
“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 of health spokesperson told a Melbourne Newspaper.
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.
As it stands, no public school can turn a child away for not being immunised.
Earlier this year the Victorian Government introduced a no jab, no play policy for early child services in the state, which begins next year, but it does not apply to schools.
Children who have been immunised against chickenpox can still contract the infectious disease. It is recommended children get a booster shot before entering high school.