Chickenpox Takes A Hit
Jul 28, 2011

Earlier this week, a study was published in Pediatrics that documents the impact of the varicella vaccine has had on chickenpox deaths in the US.  The new report indicates that during
the 12 years of the mostly 1-dose US varicella vaccination program, the mortality rates for varicella declined as much as 88 – 97% (depending on the selected age group).   In conclusion,  it’s expected that with the current 2-dose program, that there is hope for ever greater success and the potential for the most severe outcomes to be eliminated.
While this certainly sounds like good news, it didn’t take long before the vaccine critics put their spin on the report.  Their criticism was often centered around the specific number of deaths that were prevented.  The study indicates that

“in the last 6 years analyzed (2002-2007) a total of of 3 deaths per age range were reported among children aged 1 to 4 and 5 to 9 years, compared with an annual average of 13 and 16 deaths, respectively, during the prevaccine years. “

Apparently, these numbers are just not significant enough for some to recognize the benefit of vaccination.
However, what the vaccine critics fail to remember is that earlier this year, another Pediatrics article analyzed the data for varicella vaccination between 2000 and 2006 and compared it to the information from the prevaccination erea of 1988-1995.  What was revealed was that varicella vaccinations may have prevented as many as 50,000 hospitalizations. Additionally, surveys in 2005 showed a 53% to 94% reduction in varicella compared to the same prevaccination era, all while the vaccination coverage was only about 65%.
Given this information, it’s easy to acknowledge that the varicella vaccine can not only be credited for reducing deaths, but also reducing the overall number of cases, hospitalizations and direct medical costs associated with the illness.
While there will always be those who argue that chickenpox is not a serious or dangerous disease, it’s important that parents realize that varicella can cause severe complications that result in a lifetime of pain, as seen in Adam’s story below.
Thanks to the efforts of PKIDS and Shot by Shot, this video is an effective reminder that even though many people have managed to suffer through chickenpox, relatively unscathed, the fact remains that this disease can be devastating to some.  Why chance hospitalizations, severe complications or even death? While a handful of parents seek to obtain a potentially dangerous “natural” disease for their children by bringing them to “pox parties” advertised on Facebook and in various online groups, the official recommendation of the CDC and the AAP is to vaccinate your children and protect them from a disease that can be so uncomfortable and unpredictable.
I have gladly chosen vaccination over pox parties for my children.  How about you?

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