State Health Board Says Don't Mandate Chicken Pox Vaccine for New Students

By Toomey, Shamus | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 8, 2000 | Go to article overview

State Health Board Says Don't Mandate Chicken Pox Vaccine for New Students


Toomey, Shamus, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Shamus Toomey Daily Herald Staff Writer

The state board of health Thursday voted against mandating that all children entering school for the first time get vaccinated for chicken pox, although such a rule could still come.

The board, during a meeting in Chicago, voted 4-3 against the proposed mandate that has been considered since last spring. The vote came despite a positive recommendation from the board's vaccine advisory board.

The state board, however, is also just an advisory body on the issue to Dr. John Lumpkin, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, who has the final say.

Lumpkin said he has not yet made up his mind on the need for a mandate, although he personally feels the vaccine is useful.

"I think there are certainly distinct advantages," he said. "If any parent came to me and said, 'Should my children get immunized for chicken pox?' My answer would be an unequivocal 'yes.' ... Is there a health and medical benefit to mandating that? That is the next issue. That is what we are struggling with."

Lumpkin said he will likely make a decision in time for the board's March meeting. Any mandate would not be put into place until fall of 2002. The order being considered would apply to all new kindergartners or day-care students, but would not apply to children already in school. Lumpkin, however, said he would encourage parents to have their children immunized for the chicken pox, or varicella, virus, which is much more serious if contracted by an adult.

With Thursday's snow impeding travel for board members, only seven of 10 attended the meeting. …

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