Vaccinations are a regular part of life, especially during the first two years. Yet, so few parents really think about why they are vaccinating their children. Adults and the elderly are often even less likely to understand the need for vaccinations that were missed during childhood. A recent publication by the Centers for Disease Control in the August issue of Pediatrics, however, reminds us of the importance and purpose of vaccination.
Research for the publication was conducted by the CDC in Atlanta. The goal was to determine the effects that the chicken pox (varicella) vaccination had on deaths related to the illness since the vaccine’s development in 1995. The drop in mortality rates were considered “impressive” and much greater than researchers had expected.
Declines were found in all age groups, with children experiencing the greatest decline. Overall, the national average of chicken-pox related deaths dropped from 0.41 deaths per million from 1990-1994 to just 0.5 per million from 2005-2007. More specifically, death rates fell:
- 97% in individuals 19 years of age and younger.
- 90% in individuals ages 20 to 49
- 67% in individuals 50 years of age and older
Researchers were not able to determine the vaccination status for the deaths that did occur because of lack of data. However, they were able to determine that individuals with pre-existing or high-risk medical conditions accounted for 19% of varicella-related deaths from 1990-1994, 14% from 1999-2001 and 11% from 2002-2007.
It was also noted that the main benefits of the varicella vaccination are a reduction in the complications associated with contracting the illness such medical care and lost time from work or school. However, the evidence from the study provides “a powerful reminder of the importance of vaccination for prevention.”
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