© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

To Beat Chickenpox, 2 Shots Of Vaccine Are Best

Outbreaks of chickenpox among school kids immunized against the virus suggested that a single shot of vaccine probably isn't enough for full protection.

Now there's solid evidence to show that two doses of vaccine against the virus are the way to go, NPR's Patti Neighmond reports on Monday's Morning Edition.

A study that measured antibodies and the disease history of more than 200 kids found that two doses of vaccine was 98 percent effective in preventing chicken pox compared with 86 percent for a single dose. The results appear in the latest issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The results do more to affirm current practice rather than to change it. Since 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended two shots.

Kids should get their first shots at age 12 to 15 months and the second dose at age 4 to 6 years.

Vanderbilt University's Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, told NPR the first shot "acquaints the immune system with this vaccine" with the virus and the second dose is "a kick in the pants" that leads to the production of sufficient antibodies to protect a person.

While chickenpox isn't serious for most children, complications, including encephalitis, can require hospital care. Before vaccination became commonplace, 100 to 150 American children a year died from infections with the virus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.