Infectious Disease Specialist Questions Chickenpox

Is chicken pox really something you need a vaccine for?

Why not just let kids get chicken pox? Do we really need to be vaccinated for it?

7 Answers

Yes! Chicken Pox can be complicated by bacterial skin infections up to and including Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis as well as meningitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, pneumonia and death. Do you want to risk these for your child when it is a vaccine preventable disease?
It is of paramount importance to have children vaccinated against chicken pox as lack of immunization a) makes risk for community outbreaks a significant health issue for the well being of the community and b) individuals in whom vaccination is not given, the risk for potentially serious, life threatening complications significantly increases, if chicken pox is acquired as an adult.
Although Chickenpox is usually mild in children, it can cause more serious problems when teens and adults get it. People with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to developing serious complications from chickenpox. Also, once you get chicken pox the virus is dormant and later in life when your immune system is weakened (due to a myriad of causes - stress, colds, etc.) you might develop shingles which can be extremely painful and depends on the location it can cause serious health effects.
This is a risk/cost vs benefit question in which there is nominal cost and next to zero risk. Natural chickenpox has a small (not zero) for serious complications - and these risks increase as we age and since the chance of children catching chickenpox has decreased, the unvaccinated adolescents/adults will remain vulnerable for what is a highly contagious virus at an age the infection is worse.

I think the evidence strongly supports childhood vaccination for varicela (chickenpox) and consider: with recent advances in the management of malignant diseases and use of organ transplantation, our odds for living with medically induced immunodeficiency chickenpox can be a serious disease.

G dickinson
Yes, children should be vaccinated. This would prevent many vaccinated children to get a full blown infection and avoids many severe infections which may also leave skin scars. 2nd it prevents the spread of the infection to other unvaccinated or not protected children because the vaccinated children won't carry the disease even before it becomes symptomatic and spread it. Think of a child with cancer whoms immune system is weakened and could die from a chickenpox infection. 3rd Everyone who had chickenpox is essentially at risk for getting Zoster at older age when the immune system wanes because the virus stays with the person who had chicken pox forever.
Chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus) is one of the most contagious viruses of humans. It's rapid spread, prior to the fielding of a vaccine, often resulted in widespread outbreaks among school-age and nursery school children. Adults who had never contracted chickenpox, those whose immunity had waned or who were immunosuppressed were at risk of a particularly severe form of chickenpox with high rates of severe morbidity and even mortality. Perhaps the most important benefit of vaccination is elimination of the occurrence of shingles (zoster) in adults - which is a sequelae of infection with wild type chickenpox virus. The duration of immunity to chickenpox inferred by vaccine is still being determined, and there may indeed be a need for boosting of this vaccine in adults who received it as children. Adults who had naturally-occuring chickenpox as a child should be immunized with the zoster vaccine to reduce the risk of shingles.