Chickenpox outbreak in Birmingham public schools

School officials are taking action after several Birmingham Public School students have come down with chickenpox.

Some parents received an email Wednesday informing them of the recent outbreak. The email recommended that unvaccinated students be kept home until April 14.

The recommendation comes after students at Pierce Elementary, Derby Middle, Seaholm and Groves High Schools caught the highly contagious viral infection that causes a blister-like rash on the skin.

But, one day after the email was sent to parents of students in a classroom with an infected child, school officials were advised by the Oakland County Health Department to take an even stronger position.

"It was originally framed as a strong recommendation," says Dr. Daniel Nerad of Birmingham Public Schools, "and then they contacted us today indicating that they are now directing exclusion from school for a period of time."

Now, school officials say if the student has not received the chickenpox vaccination they must stay home until April 14. But, if they decide to get the vaccine now they can come back to school March 29.

School officials say as the fear of vaccinations continue, school districts will have to come up with policies to keep student safe.

"I understand that there are laws that allow parents and guardians to make decisions not to have their children immunized," Nerad says. "At the same time we can't afford to have other people exposed and have this build into a bigger medical problem."

But the medical community says the key to erasing the problem is to get vaccinated.

"The shots have been documented; they have been tested," says Dr. Sarah Laginess of Beaumont Hospital. "We know that they are safe. We know that they help prevent the disease. We strongly encourage people to come in and to get their immunizations."

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