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7/30/21blog post

what do the chickenpox and COVID have in common?

boy with chicken pox

Recent news has indicated that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is as contagious as chickenpox. For many, this is a vivid picture as they remember having chickenpox themselves or caring for their kids with this itchy disease. However, for many young parents today, this comparison may fall on deaf ears as chickenpox is simply a disease of the past… one in which both their children and themselves were vaccinated against.

It’s been decades since our world was first introduced to the chickenpox, but its ending serves as hope for other infectious diseases, like COVID-19.

“We can learn a lot about disease and vaccinations by looking at the spread and eventual end of chickenpox,” says Sherman Alter, MD, infectious disease physician at Dayton Children’s. “I used to see children in the hospital all the time for chickenpox and now it is almost unheard of. That is thanks to the varicella vaccine.”

Like COVID, the chickenpox is an infectious disease that is easily transmittable through spreading germs - there is a 90 percent contraction rate when exposed to the virus.

Until 1995, chickenpox was seen as a “universal” disease, attacking individuals with itchy rashes and scabs. In some cases, a reactivation of the virus, called shingles, caused painful lesions later in life.

Our country was yearning for a solution with an average of 4 million cases, 13,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths each year.

a foreshadow to present day

In 1995, a highly effective chickenpox vaccine (also known as varicella) was made available to the public. Receiving both doses of the multi-dose chickenpox vaccine created a 92 percent immunity.

The vaccine was the answer that the world needed. Each year, more than 3.5 million cases, 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths in the United States are prevented from the vaccine. In 2006, Dayton Children’s Dr. Alter, was instrumental in convincing Ohio legislators to adopt a requirement for the chicken pox vaccine for schools.

Normal life was restored as parents no longer feared their children touching the playground and eating in the school cafeteria.

Vaccines work, and we are already seeing the success of the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is just another immunization that can get us back to the things we enjoy.  

where to get a COVID vaccine

Dayton Children’s is offering public COVID-19 vaccine clinics at our main campus for any one eligible, ages 12 years old and older. Appointments are walk-in; no advance registration is required. The clinics are Monday-Friday between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Check in at the welcome center and they will direct you. For more information, visit

You can also find vaccine locations at


Alter Sherman

Sherman Alter, MD

infectious disease
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quick care for minor conditions

If you think your child needs to be seen for a minor condition and you can't get into your child's doctor, bring them to Kids Express. Kids Express is the only pediatric-focused retail clinic in the region. Save your spot online before you come and wait from home!