07-25-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
The varicella vaccination program, started in 1995, has all but eliminated deaths due to chicken pox in children and younger adults, according to a study released today in the August issue of Pediatrics.
The study conducted by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, found the annual mortality from chicken pox fell 97 percent in children and adolescents younger than 20 and 96 percent in those under age 50. Overall, deaths fell 88 percent since the vaccination program started. The overall national average went from 0.41 deaths per million in 1990-1994 to 0.05 per million in 2005-2007, exceeding expectations for the one-dose program. A two-dose program went into effect in 2006.
“With the current two-dose program and laws requiring the vaccine for school attendance, there is the potential to eliminate death from chicken pox altogether,” said Sherman Alter, MD, medical director, infectious disease at Dayton Children’s.
Dr. Alter was instrumental in the passage of legislation in Ohio requiring students to provide written verification of immunization against chicken pox within 14 days of entering kindergarten, beginning in the 2006-2007 school year.
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is recommended that children receive two doses of varicella vaccine, the first at12-15 months old and the second at 4-6 years old with a catch-up vaccination for others who have not been fully vaccinated.
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