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Study confirms 2 vaccine doses protect children from chickenpox
Date:1/4/2011

[EMBARGOED FOR JAN. 5, 2011] Two doses of the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine provide excellent protection in children against this highly contagious and, in some cases, severe disease. To be published in the February 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the findings support the two-dose vaccine regimen recommended in the United States since 2006. (Please see below for a link to the study online.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recommending a single dose of varicella vaccine in children aged 1 to 13 years old in 1995. Although the incidence of varicella fell by 90 percent after introduction of the vaccine, there was a high rate of breakthrough varicella illness in immunized children and continuing outbreaks of varicella among children despite high rates of vaccination. Studies also showed that the single-dose vaccine's effectiveness was less than 90 percent. Given the evidence, CDC in 2006 began recommending a second dose of the vaccine for children 4 to 6 years old.

Although data suggest that two doses of varicella vaccine are associated with higher levels of antibody than is one dose, this study is the first to assess the clinical effectiveness of two doses of the vaccine in the general population. Eugene D. Shapiro, MD, and colleagues at Yale University and collaborators at Columbia University conducted active surveillance in an area in Connecticut and discovered 71 cases of varicella in children aged 4 or older. None of the children had received two doses of vaccine, 66 (93 percent) had received one dose, and 5 (7 percent) had received no vaccine.

The investigators then compared the effectiveness of two doses of vaccine versus one dose in a case-control study, using 140 matched controls. The effectiveness of one dose in preventing varicella was 86.0 percent, while the effectiveness of two doses was 98.3 percent. According to Dr. Shapiro, "The odds of developing varicella were 95 perce
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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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