Chickenpox Vaccine Protection Fails; Booster Needed

"In the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers confirm what doctors have already known — that the vaccine has sharply reduced the number of cases in children but that its protection does not last long. With fewer natural cases of the disease, the study says, unvaccinated children or those whose first dose of the vaccine fails to work are getting chickenpox later in life, when the risk of complications is higher. “If you’re unvaccinated and you get it later in life, there’s a 20-times greater risk of dying compared to a child, and a 10- to 15-times greater chance of getting hospitalized,” said Dr. Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who worked on the study....The United States has been vaccinating against chickenpox since 1995. But tests have shown that the vaccine is not very effective in 15 percent to 20 percent of children who receive only one dose. A second dose would provide extra protection, but it is not clear how much.." - Reuters, New York Times , March 15, 2007, Chickenpox Vaccine Loses Effectiveness in Study

"Children between the ages of 8 and 12 years who had been vaccinated at least 5 years previously were significantly more likely to have moderate or severe disease than were those who had been vaccinated less than 5 years previously. The annual rate of breakthrough varicella significantly increased with the time since vaccination, from 1.6 cases per 1000 person-years within 1 year after vaccination to 9.0 per 1000 person-years at 5 years and 58.2 per 1000 person-years at 9 years." - Sandra Chavez, M.D. et al., New England Journal of Medicine
Loss of Vaccine-Induced Immunity to Varicella over Time, March 15, 2007

Barbara Loe Fisher Commentary:

In March 1995, when Merck's chickenpox vaccine, VARIVAX, was licensed, the National Vaccine Information Center issued a public statement and I appeared on NBC's "Today Show" questioning why the CDC and AAP were calling for mass use of the live varicella zoster vaccine by all healthy children. Originally developed for leukemic children for whom chicken pox could be deadly, it had taken Merck decades to get VARIVAX licensed for healthy children because it had such a high failure rate: efficacy was known to be 80 percent or less.

In 1995, NVIC went on record as opposing chicken pox vaccine mandates for the following reasons: (1) the childhood disease is highly communicable but mild for the vast majority of young children; (2) disease-induced immunity is qualitatively superior and lasts longer than vaccine induced, temporary immunity so mass vaccination sets up the need for booster shots; (3) mass vaccination will change the epidemiology of the disease and drive it into atypical older age groups where it is far more likely to cause permanent injury or death; (4) shingles cases may increase as chicken pox cases decrease.

On March 14, 2007, CDC officials published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine and confirmed the warning that NVIC issued exactly twelve years earlier: Merck's VARIVAX vaccine has a high failure rate and mass vaccination of American children has driven the disease into atypical older age groups where it can be far more dangerous. Already the CDC has said children between 4 and 6 years need a booster dose and a third booster may well be planned for teenagers..

And what about the chicken pox vaccine's safety? In September 2000, the FDA reported that in the first three years of the vaccine's use, 1 in 33,000 doses was followed by shock, convulsions, encephalitis, thrombocytopenia or death. About 82 percent of the adverse event reports to VAERS occurred in individuals who only received the chicken pox vaccine and led to the addition of 17 adverse events to the Merck product label, including secondary bacterial infections (cellulitis); secondary transmission (infection of close contacts); transverse myelitis; Guillain Barre syndrome and herpes zoster (shingles). On Sept. 13, 2000, NVIC issued a press release and stated "This vaccine should not be mandated. There are too many questions about the true adverse event and efficacy profile of this relatively new live virus vaccine and it is up to the manufacturer marketing the vaccine and the federal agencies regulating the vaccine to conduct further follow-up."

Since 2000, NVIC and VAERS have received continuing reports of brain inflammation, convulsions, vaccine strain chicken pox, shingles, regression into autism and other serious health problems following receipt of VARIVAX alone or in combination with MMR, DTaP, influenza, pneumococcal and other vaccines.

In the past few years, Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D., founder and editor of Medical Veritas, published research in Vaccine and the International Journal of Toxicology documenting an increase in shingles (herpes zoster) in the U.S. after the states mandated use of chickenpox vaccine following the CDC's 1995 "universal use" recommendation. Goldman's research revealed that shingles, a painful nerve inflammation and rash that develops into pus-filled blisters that break open and form scabs and can cause three times as many deaths and five times the number of hospitalizations as chicken pox, is suppressed naturally in a population when older children and adults have their chickenpox-induced immunity asymptomatically "boosted" by coming into contact with younger children infected with chicken pox. Dr. Goldman's findings, summarized in his article "The Case Against Universal Varicella Vaccination" (International Journal of Toxicology, 25:313-317, 2006) corroborate those of other independent researchers questioning the cost-benefit rationale for mandatory vaccination of all children with chickenpox vaccine.

Goldman and others have pointed out that, even if chickenpox was nearly eradicated by mass vaccination, the higher number of shingles cases could continue in the US for up to 50 years with any chickenpox deaths prevented by vaccination offset by deaths from increasing shingles disease. Goldman published a cost-benefit analysis of the mass varicella zoster vaccination program in Vaccine which demonstrated that the 50-year shingles epidemic will cost an excess $4.1 billion in health care costs to the U.S. According to Goldman, "The principal reason that chicken pox vaccines in Japan maintained high levels of immunity 20 years following vaccination was that only 1 in 5 Japanese children were voluntarily vaccinated. Those vaccinated received immunologic boosting from contact with children with natural chickenpox. But the mandatory vaccination program in the U.S. will nearly eradicate this natural boosting mechanism and leave our population vulnerable to shingles."

On May 26, 2006, the FDA approved Merck's shingles vaccine, ZOSTAVAX, for adults 60 years and older who have had chickenpox at some point in their lives. In October, 2006 the ACIP provisionally recommended it for all adults over 60 regardless of whether they did or did not have chickenpox. ZOSTAVAX is based on Merck's VARIVAX but is considered to be 14 times more potent. Cost for a single dose of ZOSTAVAX costs $150 or more.

The CDC recommendation that all American children get booster doses of chickenpox vaccine and all adults over 60 years old get a dose of shingles vaccine will generate billions of dollars for Merck, the sole supplier of chickenpox and shingles vaccine in the U.S.

Note: Gary Goldman has written several books about his experience as a varicella zoster vaccine researcher for the CDC and what happened when he attempted to inform the public about the vaccine's risks.
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Anonymous said...

My husband and I after doing a lot of research on immunizing and the all risks, being fully imformed on both sides (doing them/not doing them) chose not to immunize our third child. Our first born in 1982 was fully immunized. (not being aware of the dangers of immunizing) our 2nd born in 1995 was immunized, all but the chicken pox vacine. Something inside said "don't do it!". It was the first year they were giving it.
The real eye opener for us was in 1996 witnessing a death of a child (one of twins) both recieved the DPT, one of the children died within 1-2 days after receiving the shot.
I know we have made the right decision not immunizing, but now my concern is, and what we didn't even anticipate was that with all the children now bing immunized is that our children would not get the usual exposure to CP. Our children now 8 and 12, have not had the CP yet. I fear they are at risk to have it at a much later age. Later than in their teens, espcially since the push for the immunization and the need of the booster will continue. What can we do?

Anonymous said...

my son had a seizure just after his chicken pox vaccine. my second son never had that shot, but had others and our third child has never and will never have any shots.

Nicki from North Carolina said...

Our eldest is now 9 years old, and we did not know back in 1998 about the dangers of vaccinations. We allowed her to get all of her vaccinations, including chicken pox. Two years ago she got the worst case of chicken pox we have ever seen. You could not even see her skin. She ran a high fever and was very ill for several weeks. I am angry that the "vaccine" did not "protect", as we were told it would. We also now have a 7 month old (who was 2 months premature). I am very, very heavily leaning toward not vaccinating him at all, and I refused all vaccinations while he was in the hospital and in his well baby exams. I am just floored that the dr's would even suggest giving a preemie vaccinations! That's absurd! I am becoming more educated about vaccines every day, and I've always had a catch in my gut about vaccinating my children from here on out. I think I am making the right choice.

gigi said...

this is all new to me. please provide me with a good objective site about immunizing children.

marybroom said...

My 9 yr old daughter was vaccinated at the age of 15 mos. She is in the 3rd grade and in a class of 18 children. 9 boys and 9 girls. In the past month (all of the girls) except mine, came down with the pox. She had her nine year check up in the midst of this all and her Dr. gave her a booster. That was a week ago. Today she came home from our friends house with a fever of 102f and a mild rash on her belly. (not anything like the pox I saw on my two older daughters before the vaccine was given.) They had it full throttle! (including inside the eyelids! If my 9 year old is diagnosed with the chicken pox, then I think it needs to be boostered every 6 years not 8. What can I do but sit and wait at home with her - they wont let her in school for at least 10 days.

Anonymous said...

My daughter had her chicken pox vaccine at 15 months. Within 3 weeks she had reverted back to crawling and could not stand up or walk on her own. Both things she was able to do at 11 months. She was diagnosed with Acute Cerebellar Ataxia - a direct result of her chicken pox vaccine. This is when your immune system attacks your nervous system and destroys the myelin sheath.

It has been since January 7th (today is May 13th) and my daughter who will be two in July can not walk. It is extremely scary as a first time parent to see your child go through this. All because of a vaccine that was supposed to help her! We are told that she will recover but most children recover within a few weeks to a month. Since this has happened my husband and I have consumed ourselves with research on vaccines and the adverse reactions that are reported. We would love to talk with someone that has heard of this condition or someone with a similar experience. Vaccines are not the way to go. Our daughter will not get another vaccine. I can be contacted at

Shannon said...

I for one have given my children full vaccinations. I read the risks, I have been fully educated on these. I felt that giving my children immunizations against very deadly diseases far outweighed the "slim" risks. However, I have always had a slight objection to the Chicken Pox vaccine since I first heard about it. Then, I had been told that my son was done with shots until he was a teen. So when he was due for his 8 year check up I told him, no shots. I was irritated to find out he needed a booster. He was mad that I "lied". :( I really dislike the fact that there were not longer studies on the vaccine to determine the effect they were to have on children now, and then later in life when all those who choose NOT to immunize their children make mine sick.

Anonymous said...

My son got shingles from the chicken pox shot at 15 months, and now they say he is required to get another shot. I am scared to death to have him go threw that again. Any advice? Do I have the right to say no and is it the right choice?

Anonymous said...

My 15 yr. old was just told he needed a booster shot - I don't know if we should. I think we never should have allowed for him to get the immunization in the first place, but do we now have to keep up boosters in order for him to not get shingles?

Lori Kloc RN, BSN said...

At the time of your post, the school in which I am a nurse had been experiencing a chickenpox epidemic in vaccinated students. The public health department labeled it an epidemic when I was reporting at least 5 cases weekly and continued to report until approximately 33% of our students had experienced active chickenpox. The time frame was October 2007- May 2008. Right after that, the CDC and Health Depts. recommended a booster before the start of the 2008-2009 school year. Thank you for this informative post.

lance said...

This will helpful to the child to prevent chicken pox. Thanks a lot for this nice information.

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Anonymous said...

I had my twin girls immunized - but my one little girl (now 7 yrs old) has just Got the chicken pocks. Am a little irritated and upset that I paid for the very expensive "acticell" at a private clinic - they were also immunized against Measels and got that too - so in hindsight .... Skip the immunization and let our children build up natural antibodies against these diseases - and lets not risk injecting them with so called vaccines that could be deadly .

Brendac16 said...

Just curious, for your oldest daughter, do you know if she had one dose or two doses of the chicken pox vaccine? I am trying to figure out what the chances are of my daughter (who is 13 now) getting the chicken pox after coming in contact with a classmate that has now been diagnosed with it.

I have been looking up info on all of this and it is so confusing to me! Sometimes it says one dose but in another case it needs to be two doses. Then I found the shot record, only to see there are THREE date spaces for it!

I mean, it is what it is, there is nothing I can do now but wait and see what happens. But I thought it was interesting (not in a good way!) that your daughter still caught it at 7 years old.

I also have an older one, born in '92, and he just had to get immunized the old fashioned way, by suffering through it! Now I am finding out that he just might be better off! ��

Brendac16 said...

So the booster she received this last time, was it her second dose? Or did she have 2 doses and this current one was the third?

I am trying to sift through all of this confusing information! I just found out someone in my daughters class was diagnosed with chicken pox. I thought, wow that's weird, I thought they were all vaccinated. Now I am finding out all of this information that I never knew about booster shots and vaccines wearing out! So I go to find my daughters immunization record, only to see that there are THREE date spaces for chicken pox, we we have only done 2 doses 😐
I mean, there is nothing I can do about it now except wait and see what happens. But selfish me, I started worrying that she is going to get it right before we go on vacation! 😆
I also have an older son, that had to suffer with chicken pox at maybe 4 years old. So I was thinking this chicken pox vaccine was the best thing ever!
Oh well......😳

Brendac16 said...

I am finding myself in the same position as you are, but with a 13 year old daughter. I just found out that a friend in her classroom has chicken pox. Now I am finding out about the boosters needed "maybe" and no specific time table is known that I can find.

But with this information I have found so far, I am thinking if I was in your situation, I would get the booster. Before you find out that he has come into contact with someone who has it.
From what I understand, it is worse if they get it now, when they are older and previously vaccinated.
What a tough decision! And who knows, the next article I come across might say to NOT get the booster. The information is so whacky and inconsistent!

Brendac16 said...

Forgive me if this post is way outdated and I am replying to something old. I do not see a date anywhere, but only a time of day.

The post I read after replying to you mentioned the year 2007-2009! I am hoping it's not that old! I aplogize if it is! 😆