Deaths from chickenpox have dropped dramatically, and are almost nonexistent, since it became routine to vaccinate against the itchy illness.
The death rate from the virus dropped 88% in the 12 years since the varicella vaccine was introduced in 1995, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The drop among children and adolescents (under 20 years) was even greater—97% in the same time period. The researchers, from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, reported the trend online Monday in Pediatrics.
A success, yes, particularly for children. The authors note the drop in deaths was more than were expected when the vaccination program first rolled out.
Yet the actual numbers of chicken pox-related deaths are small—about 105 deaths between 1990-94, compared with 14 deaths in 2007. The authors note that cutting down on sick days and medical expenses and care is “the major benefit” of the program.