Chicken pox cases fall in Australia after vaccine introduced

New research suggests the introduction of a chicken pox vaccine at Australian hospitals in 2006 has prevented thousands of children from being hospitalized as a result of the illness.

A national study of chicken pox admissions at four major Australian children's hospitals that participated in the vaccination program found the number of children hospitalized for the illness dropped by 68 percent, according to

Associate Professor Helen Marshall, from the University of Adelaide Robinson Institute and the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, and researchers of the Pediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance project conducted the study.

Prior to the vaccine's introduction, an estimated 240,000 children were infected with the illness every year. There were approximately 1,500 hospitalizations every year and up to 16 deaths. The study, published online in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, shows no record of chicken pox deaths at the participating hospitals in the four years following the vaccine's introduction, reports.

"These results are a very strong endorsement of the impact of chicken pox vaccine being available for children through the national childhood immunization program, and of the need to immunize all children against chicken pox," Marshall said, according to Marshall was also the study's lead author.