Chickenpox Vaccine Reduces Death Toll

The chickenpox vaccine, introduced in 1995, has succeeded in reducing deaths far beyond expectations, a new study reports.

The chickenpox vaccine has succeeded in reducing deaths far beyond expectations, reports a study posted online yesterday in the journal Pediatrics. In the first 12 years after the 1995 introduction of the vaccine, which protects against the varicella virus, the overall death rate from varicella has dropped 88% and the death rate among those under 20 has dropped 97%.

The study’s authors, from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledge that the virus was never a major killer and that the primary advantage of the vaccine is savings on sick days and medical expenses. (Deaths averaged 100 per year in the early 1990s compared with 14 in 2007.)

The vaccine was initially administered in a single dose, though the study authors predict that a recommended second dose added in 2006 could eliminate deaths from the disease entirely.

Around the Web

Near Elimination of Varicella Deaths in the US After Implementation of the Vaccination Program (abstract) [Pediatrics]