2nd chickenpox shot needed

January 12, 2007|By McClatchy-Tribune

Doctors are hoping to prevent even more cases of chickenpox by urging that children routinely get two shots against varicella instead of just one.

Recommendations released last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics call for children to get a second dose of the varicella vaccine between the ages of 4 and 6.

Previous guidelines from the national group called for 1-year-olds to receive a single dose of the vaccine against varicella, the virus that causes chickenpox.

But some vaccinated children have been coming down with chickenpox because one dose of the immunization is only about 85 percent effective, said Dr. Joseph Bocchini, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases.

With a second dose, Bocchini said, the vaccine's effectiveness increases to about 95 percent.

"There is evidence that if you give a second dose," he said, "you can increase the likelihood of complete protection against varicella."

More studies will be needed to determine whether additional shots will be needed in the future to protect against chickenpox outbreaks, Bocchini said.

Experts are recommending that children get the second dose of varicella as part of an existing round of booster shots they get before starting kindergarten.

McClatchy-Tribune

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