Risk of Pediatric Shingles Reduced by Varicella Vaccine, Study Finds

JUNE 12, 2019
Sara Karlovitch, Editorial Intern
The varicella vaccine may reduce the risk of pediatric shingles, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanenete. 

Incidents of shingles, also known as herpes zoster, were 78% lower in vaccinated children than unvaccinated children, according to research published in Pediatrics. Over the 12-year study period, the rate of pediatric herpes zoster fell by 72% overall as the number of children with the varicella vaccine rose.

“We saw the highest rate of HZ in the early years of the study when there was a higher proportion of children, particularly older children, who had not received the varicella vaccine,” said Sheila Weinmann, PhD, lead investigator.

The study analyzed data from over 6.3 million children between 2003 and 2014, and found that roughly 50% were vaccinated for some or all of the study period.  The number of cases of shingles among children who were not vaccinated climbed between 2003 and 2007, however, declined rapidly through the reminder of the study period. The study contributes this to two factors, increasing vaccination rates overall and the introduction of the 2-dose varicella vaccine.

“Our findings demonstrate that the vaccine does reduce the likelihood of shingles in kids, highlighting the dual benefits of the chickenpox vaccine” Weinmann said.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Pediatric shingles is rare, despite the estimated 1 million cases of shingles every year, according to the CDC. Children also typically experience milder symptoms than adults do. 

Children who received the 2- dose vaccine had a significantly lower rate of pediatric shingles than those who had the 1- dose vaccine.  

Reference:
1. Chickenpox vaccination lowers risk of pediatric shingles [press release]. AAP News & Journals website. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/06/06/peds.2018-2917?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token. Published June 2019. Accessed June 10, 2019.
 
 This article originally apeared on Contemporary Clinic
 
 
 

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