With a vaccine available, how could there be an outbreak of chicken pox at a local charter school?
It turns out five children at Xara Garden School were deliberately exposed to the virus.
It's called a chickenpox party.
Health officials question the wisdom of it, but some parents are taking the controversial stance of weighing the risks for themselves.
One-year-old Ero will deliberately be exposed to chicken pox when he is a bit older, just like his sister Nyssa was at the age of two.
She is now immune – naturally -- and her mom says it's a better, longer lasting immunity than Nyssa would have gotten with the chickenpox vaccine.
“Their immunity should not wane like a vaccine would. That’s why they have to have booster shots with the vaccine,” said Esther Peretto.
But County health officials disagree.
“ Public health officials do not recommend that type of practice. Getting chickenpox naturally comes with risks,” County Health Officer Doctor Wilma Wooten said.
Wooten says before the vaccine was discovered in 1995, 50 to 100 children died from complications from the virus every year.
But Nyssa's mom says, according to the vaccine's maker, there are risks with the vaccine too --- including similar side effects like fever, rash and lesions, possible adverse reactions not seen in clinical trials, and questions about its long term effects and effectiveness.
“It’s relatively unproven. It hasn’t been evaluated for pregnant women. There’s a lot of questions surrounding it and I’m not willing to have my children turned over to a pharmaceutical company,” said Peretto.
Wooten countered, saying the vaccine is safe.
“It’s 99 percent effective and it does definitely prevent chicken pox and the subsequent complications both immediately and later in life,” she said.
Wooten was referring to the fact that people who get chicken pox naturally can get shingles later in life.
In fact, NBCSanDiego received an e-mail from a viewer asking if the chicken pox outbreak had anything to do with an onset of shingles.
Doctor Wooten says the outbreak is not related.