SARANAC LAKE - Five cases of chicken pox (aka varicella) have been confirmed in the Petrova Elementary and Saranac Lake Middle School building - something that would have been common a generation ago but is a rarity in modern times, when most children are vaccinated as toddlers.
Middle school nurse Lynn Hart said Friday that "every year, there's a child or two that you hear about chicken pox," but it is uncommon for the disease to spread like this. "It's a vaccine-preventable illness," she said.
But some of the students with chicken pox did get that initial vaccination as young children. Third-grader Louis Catania, 8, of Saranac Lake, is one of those students who are home with the disease, but his case is mild - and chicken pox is not very dangerous anyway.
"He really is not that sick at all," Louis' mother Amy Catania said Friday. "The doctor said the vaccine protects them somewhat."
Nevertheless, father Roger Catania wrote in an e-mail, "It was a surprise to me. Anyway, it has made for an interesting week in our household."
A second, booster shot of varicella vaccine would further protect children like Louis Catania, public health officials say, and therefore, the Franklin County Public Health Department will hold a vaccination clinic at the Petrova Avenue school from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday for students who have had only that initial shot.
"Most students just get one (vaccination) before they start school," but the state recommends children get a second shot before they start sixth grade, said Lorraine Kourofsky, supervisor of the Franklin County Public Health Department's Prevent team.
Petrova/SLMS parents who want their children to receive this booster shot must complete a consent form, sent home with each student Friday, and return it to school by the morning of Monday. Call the school nurses 897-1663 or 897-1551 with questions.
Contact Peter Crowley at (518) 891-2600 ext. 22 or firstname.lastname@example.org.