Chickenpox cases prompt plea for parents to immunise their children

14 December 2015

Seeing three children admitted to Whanganui Hospital’s Children’s Ward last week with Chickenpox has prompted paediatrician Giles Bates to urge parents to have their children immunised against the disease, if at all possible.
“There is a cost for this vaccination that I know some families will find hard to meet,” Dr Bates says.
“But for those who can afford to pay the fee charged by GPs, I would urge them to do so. The Chickenpox vaccination is available to children from the age of nine months.
“We weren’t surprised to find that two of the three children admitted on Saturday and Sunday required intravenous antibiotics due to infections caused by the disease. It’s widely known that one in 20 New Zealand children will develop a bacterial skin infection as a result of their having Chickenpox, and that one in 10 children hospitalised with chicken pox will be admitted to Starship Hospital’s intensive care unit.
“Chickenpox is a serious disease that spreads easily through contact with family and friends. It can cause inflammation of the brain, permanent scarring and at its worst, death.”

Five-year-old Isaac Mahony has been a very sick but brave little boy who has earned the right to wear the superhero cape given to him when he was admitted to hospital last weekend. Clinical nurse manager Janene Louwrens has expressed her heartfelt thanks to the anonymous donor who recently dropped off a large container of ‘beautiful’ superhero capes for the Children’s Ward. 
Five-year-old Isaac Mahony was one of the two children who Dr Bates says required intravenous antibiotics. Isaac contracted Chickenpox following an outbreak at Upokongaro School which his mother Malissa says had kept parents well informed through the school’s newsletter. A few days after receiving the news, little white spots appeared all over Isaac.
“Five days after Isaac became unwell my husband and I took him to Whanganui Hospital’s Emergency Department where he was shaking, having trouble breathing and walking, and fighting a temperature up in the 40s,” Mrs Mahony says.

“If we’d been made aware that a vaccination against Chickenpox was available at the time of his other standard immunisations from Plunket, we would not have hesitated in having it done. You wouldn’t wish this illness on any child.”

Isaac’s father Aaron described his son as a little trooper who’s well known around their community by his nickname ‘Ironman.’ Isaac plays softball for the Athletic Under-9s so he’s very keen to recover and get back into it. There is every sign he has a promising future in the game.