Most Children Should Receive Chickenpox Vaccine
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 10, 2000 (Baltimore) -- Although the vaccine against varicella, or
chickenpox, has been in use for some time, a large number of children aren't
immunized and should be, says a document released by the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP) updating their recommendations on the vaccine. The update
appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"There are really three things that are important in this document,"
says Michael Gerber, MD, member of the committee on infectious diseases of the
AAP, in an interview with WebMD. "First is the recognition that although
the recommendation for universal use of the varicella vaccine was made in 1995,
a large number of eligible children remain unimmunized. Second, the Academy
[AAP] is now strongly encouraging pediatricians to support public health
officials in the development and implementation of varicella vaccine
requirements for daycare and school entry. And third is that the vaccine has
been shown to be safe in certain patients who are HIV positive and should be
administered to them."
Gerber says that some pediatricians and parents are resistant to the idea of
vaccinating all eligible children for chickenpox. "Although they are
decreasing in number, there are still some people who are not convinced the
vaccine is safe and effective," he says. "I think much of the
resistance among pediatricians is a reflection of the resistance on the part of
The update cites many studies showing the vaccine is safe and effective. One
new study has just been published in the December issue of the Pediatric
Infectious Disease Journal. This study looked at the vaccine effectiveness
in 11 day care centers serving between 1,100 and 1,500 children in North
Carolina. Comparing the number of chickenpox cases in vaccinated and
unvaccinated children, the vaccine effectiveness in this study was found to be
"Basically, what we saw is that as children are vaccinated, there is
less varicella disease, even among those who haven't been vaccinated,"
Christine Bland, RN, a research nurse at the Duke Vaccine Unit at Duke
University in Durham, N.C., and one of the authors of the study, tells WebMD.
"We're hoping that one day the vaccine will be made mandatory and we can
avoid any outbreaks of varicella. This is especially important as more children
who are immunocompromised attend day care and school. For these kids, the
infection can be quite deadly."