A large, population-based study in the July 2019 Pediatrics confirms an additional benefit of immunizing against varicella (chickenpox), a disease that once sickened more than 4 million people in the United States each year—mostly children. The study, “Incidence of Herpes Zoster Among Children: 2003-2014,” published online June 10, found that children who were vaccinated against varicella had 78% lower incidence of herpes zoster (shingles) than those who were not vaccinated. For the study, researchers combined databases from six health systems for the 12-year period, examining the medical records of more than 6.3 million children up to age 17 years to identify diagnoses of herpes zoster. The varicella virus goes dormant in the body after causing a chickenpox infection and can later reemerge to cause herpes zoster, a painful skin rash also known as shingles. Findings also showed that children who received two doses of the vaccine – the first between 12 and 18 months of age and a booster between 4 and 6 years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics—had an even lower incidence of herpes zoster.
Editor’s note: The solicited commentary, “Varicella Vaccine: What Have You Done For Me Lately?” accompanies this study.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds