Good News for Vaccination: Two-Dose Vaccine Program Causes Significant Drop of Chickenpox Cases in the US
Health officials have announced that the two-dose vaccination program against the varicella-zoster virus in the U.S. has caused the dramatic decline of chickenpox since its implementation in 2006.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the cases of the highly contagious disease in the U.S. have dropped by 85 percent between 2005 to 2006 and 2013 to 2014. More than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox were prevented by the vaccination program, including 9,000 possible hospitalizations and 100 deaths annually.
In the early 1990s, during the time that vaccines for chickenpox are not yet available, an average of four million people in the U.S. are acquiring the virus each year. These include 3,500 in need of hospital care and about 100 to 150 deaths.
According to the report from CBS News, a single-dose vaccine was developed and made available in 1996. Over the next 10 years since the introduction of the vaccine, CDC observed a 90 percent decline in chickenpox cases. However, chickenpox outbreaks still continued during that time. Due to this, CDC implemented the two-dose vaccine program in 2006.
Under the two-dose vaccine program, CDC recommends parents to have their children vaccinated two times. The first dose will be given between 12 and 15 months of age, followed by the second dose to be given between four and six years of age. Parent could also opt to have their children received the second dose at an earlier time, as long as it is given three months after the first dose.
People who are 13 years of age or older who have not yet receive any vaccinations against chickenpox should get the two doses at least 28 days apart.
CDC noted that there are some cases where the vaccine was unable to prevent the disease. However, people who are vaccinated will experience milder symptoms compared to those who did not receive any vaccine at all.
Chickenpox can cause rash, itching and tiredness. It could also lead to severe infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage and even death.