Chicken Pox Vaccine Has Saved Lives
Sue Hubbard, M.D.
It's always good news when I read research-based studies validating that vaccines are one of the most important advances in public health. Case in point: A recent article in Pediatrics entitled "Near Elimination of Varicella Deaths in the U.S. after Implementation of the Vaccination Program" confirmed how well a vaccine can work.
When I first started practicing, I saw many cases of varicella (chickenpox). My two oldest sons both had chickenpox and spent several days and long nights with fever and itching, and carry a few scars to show for their ordeal (I told them not to scratch!).
By the time my third son came along, the chickenpox vaccine was being administered in
At the time, many of my friends said, "What's the big deal? It's just chickenpox." But they had not seen that perfectly healthy 2-year-old die in our office as five doctors tried to save him. His parents watched in bewilderment that their son could be so sick from "just the chickenpox." I'll never forget it.
I just wanted my youngest son to be vaccinated rather than deal with the anxiety that he could die from varicella. As it turned out, the vaccine was released shortly after our patient's death, and my son received the first dose when it arrived! I'm sure the parents of the deceased child wished the vaccine had been available several months earlier.
This Pediatrics article looked at data from the 12 years since the vaccine was approved, indication a 97 percent reduction in varicella deaths among children and adolescents younger than 20. In the last 6 years of data analyzed (2002-2007) there were only three deaths among children ages 1-4 and 5-9, compared to 13-16 deaths for each age group during pre-vaccine years.
The study concluded that the "impressive decline in varicella deaths can be directly attributed to successful implementation of the 1-dose vaccine program." Now that we're routinely giving a second dose of varicella vaccine, it may be possible to eliminate all deaths secondary to chickenpox. Could there be any better news?
Vaccinate your children.It's the best insurance there is.
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- Chicken Pox Vaccine Has Saved Lives
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