ECDC: Varicella vaccination more potent in two-dose format

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday that a universal two-dose varicella (chickenpox) childhood vaccination provides full protection against the disease and does not increase the chance of acquiring herpes.

A one-dose vaccination regimen has been estimated to have approximately 85 percent efficacy, but does not necessarily prevent milder forms of varicella (breakthrough varicella, or BV) from recurring.

Reports from countries that have implemented varicella vaccination in children have shown a rapid decrease in varicella cases -- including fewer complications and deaths --- as well as lower hospitalization rates in every age group.

Currently, the only European countries that recommend universal varicella vaccination for children at the national level are Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Latvia and Lithuania. Spain and Italy recommend it at the regional level, while 17 countries recommend nationwide vaccination for at-risk teens and other high-risk groups only.

The ECDC also recommends that all countries' national health authorities assess their epidemiological and socioeconomic situations and capacity to reach at least 80 percent vaccination coverage when planning for varicella vaccination programs to avoid moving the disease to older age groups.

It is also important to take into consideration the differences in incidence and force of infection in certain countries. In some countries, antibodies are acquired at an earlier age, and that seroprevalence is at a decreased rate among children in Southern and Eastern Europe. These variations could be due to differences in day-care usage rates and preschool facilities, in addition to social contacts. Followup studies are ongoing.

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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - News

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