CHICKEN POX: Study of Vaccine Reveals Effectiveness
The first community-wide study of the chicken pox vaccine in the country showed that inoculations led to an 80% reduction in cases over five years and could eliminate the disease entirely, the Los Angeles Times reports. An ongoing CDC study by Los Angeles County health officials revealed that between 1995, when the vaccine was introduced, and 1999, chicken pox cases dropped from 2,934 to 587. Researchers hope the findings will dispel physicians' misgivings about the vaccine as "unnecessary, potentially risky and otherwise ill-advised." They worried that adults' immunity to the wild virus would be lessened with reduced circulation of the virus among children. The study, conducted in the Antelope Valley, Calif., Philadelphia, Pa., and Travis County, Texas, refuted those concerns, as declines in disease rates across all age groups suggest that, when children receive the vaccine, adults are less likely to get chicken pox as well. Despite examples of "breakthrough cases," where vaccinated children get the infection anyway, officials now hope that widespread use of the vaccine will place chicken pox alongside measles and mumps as "an officially preventable childhood infection." According to researcher Dr. Laurene Mascola, the vaccine is 85-93% effective and breakthrough cases are generally "very mild" (Marquis, 6/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.