Children who receive the varicella vaccine are significantly less likely to contract herpes zoster virus, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study examined the electronic health records of more than 6.3 million children between 2003 and 2014 in the United States (US). Approximately 50 per cent of the children were vaccinated against varicella for some or all of the study period.
For the 12-year period, the herpes zoster incidence rate in vaccinated children was 38 per 100,000 person-years; which was 78 per cent lower than in unvaccinated children (170 per 100,000 person-years; P<.0001>
The overall incidence of herpes zoster declined by 72 per cent (P<.0001 between and>
Increasing rates of vaccination over the study period reduced the risk of contracting herpes zoster for all children: The incidence rate among children who were unvaccinated climbed from 2003 to 2007 and then declined sharply by the end of the study period.
The decline could also have been related to the US introduction of a second dose of varicella vaccine beginning in 2007, as herpes zoster incidence was much lower in children who received two-doses of the vaccine rather than one-dose, the study authors said.