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Friday, August 14th, 2015
The chickenpox vaccine, also known as the varicella vaccine, was first made available in 1995, and since its introduction there have been significantly fewer cases in the United States. In 2006, the recommendation for a second dose of the vaccine was added, and both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that kids get this second dose between ages 4 and 6.
Related: Is the Chickenpox Vaccine Safe?
Now, a new study confirms that the added dose has continued to decrease the number of outpatient visits and hospitalizations due to chickenpox. The study, published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, examined national health data from 1994 to 2012.
CDC researchers found that between 2006 and 2012, after the two-dose vaccination recommendation was introduced, outpatient visits decreased by 60 percent and hospitalizations declined by 38 percent.
While the most significant declines were among the vaccine’s targeted population (1-19 year olds), they also found a reduction in cases among babies younger than 12 months (who haven’t yet had the vaccine) and adults (who are often unvaccinated), which suggests the potential of herd immunity.
Related: How Much Do You Really Know About Vaccines?
“We saw significant declines in rates of varicella after the one-dose vaccine was recommended in 1995 in the U.S., and we’re continuing to see additional declines in varicella after two doses were recommended in 2006,” said Jessica Leung, the study’s co-author.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Boy getting vaccine via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 5th, 2013
The varicella vaccine, which immunizes against the virus that causes chickenpox, has been found in a new study published online in the journal Pediatrics to be highly effective after one dose, and even moreso after two doses. More from The New York Times:
Before 1995, when the varicella vaccine came into widespread use, chickenpox affected about 90 percent of the population, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and about 100 deaths a year.
“Now a very safe vaccine will totally prevent it from happening,” said the lead author, Dr. Roger Baxter, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif.
Between June and November 1995, researchers began studying 7,585 children vaccinated between the ages of 1 and 2. They interviewed their parents every six months, asking about the occurrence of both chickenpox and shingles, the painful rash that can occur after recovery from chickenpox. In June 2006, a second vaccine dose was recommended, and the researchers followed those cases through the end of the study in 2009.
The analysis, published online in Pediatrics, found 1,505 cases of chickenpox, all except 30 of which were mild or moderate, involving less than 300 lesions. There were no cases among children who received a second dose.
Image: Infant getting vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 10th, 2011
A Nashville, Tennessee woman has caused a stir by offering for sale spit, cotton swabs, and lollipops that were licked by her chickenpox-infected children. The offer, which she posted on Facebook, was meant to help parents who wanted to expose their children to the varicella virus instead of giving them the vaccine against the chickenpox.
According to a report from NPR:
State health officials were horrified at the prospect, and pointed out that not only is the varicella vaccine much safer for children than getting the disease itself, but spreading the virus could pose a serious risk to children who can’t be vaccinated because they are undergoing cancer treatment or have other health problems.
Deaths caused by chickenpox have plummeted since the vaccine was introduced in 1995, according to a study published in July.
Before the vaccine was introduced, parents would sometimes expose their children to others who were sick with the disease, so the children would have a reduced risk of serious infection as adults. The idea has since been adopted by some parents leery of vaccines.
NPR reported that once the story caught the attention of health officials, the Facebook page now offers “pox parties” for local families only–no shipping of items allowed.
(image via: http://www.free-extras.com/)
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Monday, July 25th, 2011
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that deaths from the varicella virus, better known as chickenpox, have decreased 96 percent since a vaccine for the disease began mainstream use in 1995.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics under a headline declaring “near-elimination” of chickenpox deaths.
“Every kid did get chickenpox and, in the pre-vaccine era, there were 3-4 million cases a year,” Jane Seward, the study’s author, told CNN.com. “What people may not have realized, every year, about 105 people died of chickenpox. About half of those were children and about 11,000-12,000 were hospitalized with severe complications. We started preventing the disease to really prevent those very serious complications.”
People under age 50 were the greatest beneficiaries of the mortality drop, so the CDC urges older adults who have not had chickenpox to get vaccinated.
(image via: http://www.cdc.gov/)
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