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/)