A heated debate over vaccinations has sparked controversy after 36 students at a North Carolina school contracted the chickenpox as of Monday.
CNN reports, the outbreak at Asheville Waldorf School is a cause of real concern for people in the state because 110 of the 152 students who attended the school do not have the chickenpox vaccine.
Asheville Waldorf, which enrolls children from nursery through sixth grade, has the highest number of religious vaccination exemptions in North Carolina. And health officials have warned that the outbreak is concerning.
Some in the community, however, have expressed a mixed reaction to the varicella virus known as chickenpox.
According to the Associated Press, it’s the largest outbreak in the state since the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) required vaccinations for all children attending school starting in 1995.
The state only permits both religious and medical exemptions.
On Facebook, some were quick to blame anti-vaxxers for the spread of the virus at Asheville Waldorf’s campus. Commenters wrote:
They need to have a school just for anti-vaxxers.
Shame on anti-vaxxers…
However, others said chickenpox is nothing more than a harmless childhood illness. Commenters responding to the criticism wrote:
It’s just chicken pox for christ sakes, little kids are SUPPOSED to get chicken pox. Calm … down NC.
When I was a kid everyone got Chicken Pox… we all survived LOL
Since when did chicken pox become the new black plague?? how many of you on here complaining have had chicken pox and survived??
According to healthcare providers, while in most cases the highly contagious viral infection that causes an itchy rash isn’t typically life-threatening, the virus could cause hospitalization in rare cases.
Dr. Jennifer Mullendore of Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services told the Asheville Citizen-Times:
“People don’t think it’s a serious disease, and for the majority of people it’s not. But it’s not that way for everybody.”
She explained that out of every 1,000 children infected with chickenpox, two to three required care in a hospital at various stages of the rash. Mullendore added:
“To me, that’s not a mild disease, and if you’re the parent of one of those children, you probably don’t think so either.”
Asheville Waldorf School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.