Chickenpox Vaccine Not Linked to Increased Shingles Risk

Chickenpox VaccineThe childhood chickenpox vaccine (varicella vaccine) does not increase the risk of developing singles (herpes zoster) in adulthood, says a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The same virus, the varicella zoster virus (VZV), causes both chickenpox and shingles. Chickenpox is primarily a childhood disease, although adults can contract the disease — with increased risk from a childhood infection. Chickenpox causes a generalized and itchy rash.

Because the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in the body, the virus can return later in life as shingles. The dominant symptom of shingles is a painful rash that most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around one side of the torso.

The chickenpox vaccines protects against chickenpox while the shingles vaccines protects against shingles.

In recent years in the United States, shingles infections among adults have increased. One theory behind the increase is that the universal vaccination program with the chickenpox vaccine has negatively affected the immunity in adults. However, there is no evidence to support the “chickenpox vaccine causes shingles” hypothesis.

To examine a possible link between the chickenpox vaccine and an increased risk of shingles, researchers from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined Medicare records from 1992 through 2010. The study consisted of 2,848,765 participants aged 65 and older.

Because the universal chickenpox vaccination program was not introduced in the United States until 1996, none of the participants in the study had been young enough to receive the chickenpox vaccine.

As the researchers discovered, the increase in shingles infections in adults did not change after the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine in 1996. That is, the widespread use of the chickenpox vaccine in childhood does not increase the risk of developing shingles in adulthood.

Countries considering a universal chickenpox vaccination program should note that the chickenpox vaccine in childhood is not linked to an increased shingles risk in adulthood.


Chickenpox Vaccination Not Linked to Increased Shingles Incidence:
Examination of Links Between Herpes Zoster Incidence and Childhood Varicella Vaccination:

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