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Michigan officials emphasize need for chickenpox vaccination

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan health officials are emphasizing the need to keep children's vaccinations up to date following recent chickenpox outbreaks.
 
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says Tuesday that outbreaks have been reported in recent weeks in Calhoun, Grand Traverse, Muskegon and Wayne counties and have involved mainly unvaccinated children in school settings.
 
Immunization against chickenpox and several other diseases is required for school entry in Michigan. However, parents have the option to waive the requirement.
 
Also known as varicella, chickenpox is characterized by an itchy, blistery rash. The rash may be preceded or accompanied by fever, tiredness, headache and loss of appetite. Chickenpox is highly contagious, with the virus spreading through coughing and sneezing.