The Question: Does the varicella vaccination program also protect infants too young to be vaccinated from this disease?

The Study: The incidence of varicella (chickenpox) in infants under one year of age was measured before and after the varicella vaccine program was introduced in 1995. The vaccine is approved for administration in children 1 year and older.

The Results: The incidence of chickenpox in this age group declined by almost 90% from 1995 to 2008. Those infants who did suffer from varicella had few symptoms, their symptoms were milder, and they had fewer complications.

Comment: Too many parents think of chickenpox as a benign disease. They are severely misinformed. For some children chickenpox is just an unpleasant experience, while others suffer significant complications including skin infections, ear infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the testicles, convulsions and more. The reason for the decline in chickenpox in infants too young to be immunized is a phenomenon called “herd immunity.” If enough of the herd is protected, then the unimmunized are also likely to be protected.

Read More: Pediatrics, 12/11

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From issue: 27/11-12