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Chicken Pox Vaccine Effective, But Not Perfect

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Kim Mulvihill reporting Chicken pox is a very common and highly contagious disease. But how effective is the vaccine?

The vaccine is highly effective against severe cases of this viral illness -- however, it's not perfect.

Connor loves to kiss his little sister.

Jeanette Nichols, Connor’s mom: “They're constantly touching and I’m sure the germs are spreading back and forth.”

One highly infectious germ is a virus called varicella - or the chicken pox. Getting vaccinated against the disease is routine for children in the united states.

However -- even after getting vaccinated - - a small number will still get the disease.

Federal researchers wanted to know whether vaccinated children who came down with the disease were just as contagious as the unvaccinated ones. They scrutinized detailed chicken pox data gathered from a community of three hundred thousand Californians - - from 1997 to 2002. It was 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease, 92 to 100 percent effective in preventing moderate or severe disease, and 80 percent effective in preventing all forms of chicken pox."

Vaccinated kids who still got chicken pox suffered mostly mild cases, with shorter illness and fewer lesions, and were only about half as contagious as unvaccinated kids who got the disease.

These findings were good news to Jeanette Nichols.

Jeanette Nichols, Connor’s mom: "The less discomfort the better for the kids."

She says she now plans to have Connor and his sister vaccinated against chicken pox.

This study is published in the journal of the American Medical Association.

Does that mean they can still transmit the disease? Yes, and chicken pox can be quite severe for newborns, teens and adults, if your immune system is suppressed the disease can be a big threat

Chicken Pox Complications:

  1. skin infections
  2. pneumonia
  3. meningitis or encephalitis
  4. hospitalizations
  5. death Should adults get vaccinated? -- 90% of adults are immune -- including people who do not recall having Chickenpox. You can get a blood test to see if you are immune. Chicken pox is infectious 1-2 days before rash erupts to crusting of all spots, and is easy to spread. All susceptible adults should get vaccinated -- especially those at greater risk of spreading the infection: teachers of young children, women of childbearing age, people who live with or work with people who are immunosuppressed, institutions, military.

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