Sharp Drop in Chickenpox Deaths Due to Vaccine - WebMD
By Jennifer Warner, WebMD
Chickenpox deaths in the U.S. have been nearly eliminated thanks to widespread use of the varicella vaccine, according to a new CDC study.
Researchers found chickenpox deaths have dropped by 88% overall and by 97% among children and adolescents since 1995, when the varicella vaccine program began in the U.S. Before the varicella vaccine became available, chickenpox was responsible for about 100 deaths and 11,000 hospitalizations each year.
"The impressive decline in varicella deaths can be directly attributed to successful implementation of the 1-dose vaccination program," write study researcher Mona Marin, MD, of the CDC, and colleagues in Pediatrics. "With the current 2-dose program, there is potential that these most severe outcomes of a vaccine-preventable disease could be eliminated."
A second varicella vaccine dose given at the age of 4 to 6 years was added to national vaccination recommendations in 2006. The first dose is given at the age of 12 to 18 months.
Since 2005, the varicella vaccine has also been available as part of a combination vaccine that offers protection against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella, known as the MMRV.
Most cases of chickenpox are mild, but it can be life-threatening in rare cases, especially among those with weakened immune systems such as infants and the elderly.
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