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Babies who don't get chickenpox vaccine still benefit, study says
November 28th, 2011
12:02 AM ET

Babies who don't get chickenpox vaccine still benefit, study says

The number of babies getting chickenpox has gone down dramatically since the vaccine was first introduced more than 15 years ago, according to new research published Monday.  Infants under the age of one do not get a chickenpox vaccine because they are too young.  But they are indirectly benefiting from those who do receive the drug, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.

"By having those people who are recommended to be vaccinated, we decrease the amount of disease that's going around," said Adriana Lopez, study author and epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That therefore decreases the exposures that people who aren't protected would come across."

Researchers looked at data from when the vaccine became available in 1995 until 2008. They found varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, decreased 90% in infants during this period.  This very strongly suggests that vaccinating those who are old enough also protects those who cannot be inoculated, something health officials call community or "herd" immunity.

The common childhood virus is very contagious and causes a blister-like-rash, itching and fever. In severe cases, it can be fatal.

Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu says she's seen a significant decrease in chickenpox infections following widespread use of the vaccine. "No vaccine is 100% effective; however, the breakthrough cases I have seen have been extremely mild compared to children who get chickenpox without getting the vaccine–on the order of 30 or so lesions compared to about 300."

The CDC says prior to the vaccine's availability in 1995, infants were four times more likely to die from chickenpox infection than those older than a year.

Shu, who is also the medical editor for the AAP's parenting  website HealthyChildren.org, says the chickenpox vaccine is extremely effective in preventing serious complications from the illness, such as pneumonia or severe skin infections, so even if a child contracts the illness, they now rarely end up in the hospital from it.

Lopez says there is still more work to be done.

"Even though the chickenpox rates have gone down significantly since the vaccination program started, there is still disease circulating," she said. "By increasing coverage in those who are recommended to be vaccinated, then we will be able to protect those who cannot get vaccinated, like infants, and also people who have medical indications that don't allow for them to be vaccinated."


soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. jt

    Hi im in school

    November 28, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KandyKane

      Good. Stay there.

      November 28, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
  2. Poodles

    Waffles are green. Green waffles. That's just crazy!

    November 28, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ick

    the chickens will come home to roost when that unvaccinated kid finally gets chicken pox as an adult..pay now or pay later..and then shingles

    November 28, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KandyKane

      Oh, the anti-vax morons won't bother educating themselves, so don't waste your time.

      One can only hope they croak from some malady before they infect anyone else.

      November 28, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • pattysboi

      So VERY true, ick. I had chickenpox as a kid, and a VERY painful case of shingles on my face and scalp as an adult. One eye swelled shut, and THAT was horrible. Had I kids, they WOULD be getting the vaccine, no questions about it.

      December 6, 2011 at 04:54 | Report abuse |
  4. Dr Bill Toth

    Using the same logic then babies who are not vaccinated do NOT put babies who are at any risk. It is possbile that the chicken pox virus is naturally on the decline. Live with Intention, DrBillTothCom/blog

    November 29, 2011 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Karen

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    November 29, 2011 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kiko

    This irresponsible list cites no earersch, and I have reason to question the education/intelligence level of whoever wrote it ( more than one dos. ). I will spare you an exhaustive critique of the flawed logic, but I have listed a couple of rebuttals as follows:#1. While there is a subset of people who become sick despite vaccination, they are in a tiny minority. Most of the cases of measles in recent outbreaks (not out breaks) were unvaccinated children.#2. Illness injuries can also be for life. Ref: Franklin D. Roosevelt, or the kids from #1 with measles-induced brain damage.#3. Many chemotherapy patients, blood transfusion recipients, and I dare I say it, vaccinated children would beg to differ. Also, this is a prime example of non-scientific writing. #3 is an opinion, not a fact.#4. Ditto the chemotherapy patients.I could go on, but suffice it to say, this sloppy list is uninformed hype and propaganda. I by NO MEANS endorse blind faith in doctors or public health officials. Parents should responsibly inform themselves by earersching reputable work (The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears is a great place to start). Just don't listen to people who clearly have no clue what they are talking about.#5. So

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