Children’s Health News: Single Dose of Chicken Pox Shot Not Enough

Researchers from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the LA Health Department have studied approximately 350,000 Californians between the year 1995 and 2004. Out of 11,000 who had developed chickenpox virus, nearly 1,100 had received vaccinations. This does not mean that we should stop taking our kids to get these vaccines. It actually means we should be concerned about increasing the number of times the vaccine is received. The vaccine has actually prevented countless Americans from catching this highly contagious disease.

What this study means is that children who were vaccinated at an early age should have a repeat dose of the vaccine in the form of a booster shot. This will greatly decrease the chance of the child being at an elevated risk for catching the chickenpox virus.

The usual recommendation is for kids to vaccinated with the varicella vaccine (the chickenpox vaccine) between 12 and 15 months of age. In 2006, the CDC recommended giving a booster shot to children who were 4 to 6 years of age to further protect them. In a study involving this recommendation, it was found that with the single dose a child got about 85 percent of protection. With the single dose, plus the booster shot, chicken-pox related hospitalizations and deaths have dramatically been reduced.

In this study, it was also found that 8 to 12 year olds who contracted the virus and had received the vaccination at least 5 years previous, but had not received a booster shot, were twice as likely to have moderate to severe cases of the chickenpox virus. This meant that the longer it had been since the vaccination was given, the worse their illness would be if they contracted the virus at a later age.

It is now recommended that all children receive the vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and then receive a booster shot at the age of 4 to 6 years. Also, if you have older children who either did not receive the vaccine at all or did not receive a booster, you should make sure to get them a booster shot of the varicella vaccine. Even teenagers and adults should have this booster as well. It will better protect them from chickenpox.

This article is not a replacement for advice from a medical professional. It is best to talk to your doctor or physician about any concerns and about getting the booster shot. Your doctor can answer any questions and further determine, if based on any medical conditions, it would not be wise to get the vaccine.

Information on Chickenpox:
Chickenpox is a virus. The medical term is varicella-zoster virus.

Most people experience chickenpox between the ages of 5 to 9, however, it can be contracted at any age. The older a person is during contraction of the disease, the more severe the illness resulting can be.

Chickenpox is highly contagious. If one family member has contracted it, you can generally assume that all will have it, unless they were vaccinated previously. Transmission occurs through particles in the air, clothing, and bodily secretions, making it very easy to catch.

The symptoms can last up to two weeks. However, a person is contagious from the first five days before a rash occurs and then five days after the rash begins to clear. Generally, once the rash blisters have encrusted, the person is no longer contagious.

Signs and symptoms generally won’t appear until after the person has already had the virus for up to 14 days. They include the rash that looks like a person has insect bites all over their body, weakness, and a mild fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or less). Some may experience all or none of the symptoms. Some only experience a mild form of the virus. Others will respond more extremely and may even require hospitalization. While rare, death can also occur.

The sores can also become infected with bacteria, so be sure to protect exposed sores with an antibacterial ointment. Other complications, while rare, include brain disorders, dizziness, tremors, encephalitis (brain inflammation), nerve damage, and Reye’s syndrome.

Patients with immune-deficiency diseases such as AIDS, lupus, leukemia, and cancer may experience the most severe complications. Persons taking immune-suppressing drugs also need to protect themselves against varicella-zoster.

Newborns whose mothers experience chickenpox in the third trimester are at a great risk of contracting the virus. If the mother contracts the virus from 5 days before or up to 2 days after the baby’s birth, the infant’s risk of fatality is up to a thirty percent chance.

Sources:
http://www.kidshealth.org/research/chickenpox_booster.html by Steven Dowshen, MD
http://www.medicinenet.com/chickenpox_varicella/article.htm MedicineNet.com