Rare Chickenpox Outbreak In Williamsburg’s Jewish Area


A rare outbreak of chickenpox is underway in Williamsburg’s Orthodox community, and the Health Department wants doctors to urge parents to vaccinate their children.

The outbreak, announced by the New York City agency on Monday, requires doctors, hospitals and clinics to give early treatment to high-risk groups, defined in an alert as the “Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”

The department said that it is investigating the outbreak after 75 reports of patients who came down with chickenpox since March. The median age is three years old; the youngest are infants and the oldest is 10.

In a statistic highlighted to Hamodia by a Health Department spokesman, 72 percent of those who fell ill were not vaccinated and 14 percent had not yet received the recommended number of doses.

“Outbreaks are not common and, yes, they’re the result of not vaccinating or delaying vaccination,” spokesman Christopher Miller said in email.

Chickenpox used to be a common ailment among children until a vaccine was developed about two decades ago. The city recommends two doses of the vaccine — the first at 12 months old and a second dose at four years of age.

The vaccine is 98 percent effective at preventing chickenpox, according to the Health Department.

Esther Deutsch, a Williamsburg mother of two, said that the majority of women in her area vaccinate their children. However, a significant minority decline the vaccine when it comes to chickenpox, an illness with an extremely low fatality rate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than a 100th of 1 percent of the 4 million people who come down with chickenpox die.

“As a child I got immunized from chickenpox the real way — I came down with it,” Mrs. Deutsch told Hamodia. “I don’t look at it as an ‘illness.’ The most you’ll get is two scars and a day off from school.”

A version of this article appeared in Monday’s daily edition.

Updated Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 8:08 pm