September 6, 2011 by staff
Since 1999, the Canadian Pediatric Society has recommended that all children be vaccinated at least once against chickenpox. Most provinces and territories have routine immunization programs in lieu of varicella, the clinical name for chickenpox.
Most children receive their first dose between 12 and 18 months of age.
Before a vaccine became available, there were about 5,000 hospitalizations related to chickenpox each year in Canada. But surveillance programs indicate that the number of hospitalizations for children has declined by up to 84 percent in some provinces has already introduced the vaccine.
Now, new evidence suggests that two shots offer better protection lifelong disease, the CPS said in its position statement on Tuesday. So pediatricians recommend children receive a booster when they are between 4 and 6 years old.
Adolescents who have never had chickenpox should get two shots at least four weeks apart, the CPS recommends.
They say there is evidence that without that dose of the vaccine in the second place, some children lose their immunity as they grow, making them susceptible to disease than adults – a time when chickenpox can be more serious.
“Adults who get chickenpox have a more severe disease are more likely to get pneumonia and be admitted to the hospital. They also have a higher rate of mortality of the disease,” the statement said Dr. Marina Salvadori, in a press release.
No vaccine provides 100 percent protection, but the CPS said that two doses should enhance the immune response in those receiving the vaccine.
A whole body rash, red spots that sometimes turn into blisters filled with fluid characterize chickenpox. The disease usually also brings fever, headache, dry cough and fatigue.
Chickenpox usually develops two to three weeks after any physical contact with an infected person, or by inhaling the virus nel. The disease becomes most contagious 24 hours before the rash appears, making it easier for infected people to spread the virus unknowingly.
Those who have become ill with chickenpox do not need the vaccine, even if they do get a dose is unlikely to cause any damage.
The statement puts the CPS in step with the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which recommended a regimen of two doses of varicella, and from a year ago.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended two immunizations since 2007.
CPS also wants the public funding of varicella vaccine booster. Some provinces, like Ontario, to pay for the second dose, but not all provinces. The position statement is urging all provinces and territories to cover the two vaccines.
Speaking to the Canadian press, Salvadori explained that one of the reasons for the CPS issued this statement is to put pressure on the provinces to fund publicly.
“What we’re really waiting for is the all provinces to collect this, and makes a presentation at the next year or two in every Canadian province of all children in Canada,” he said.
Certain people should not get chickenpox vaccine, including:
People who have a history of severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or other vaccine components
People with weakened immune systems, unless under the supervision of a specialist in infectious diseases
Pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant
Babies under one year old
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