What is the history of Shingles in America and other countries?
Is there an association between chickenpox vaccine and an increase in shingles?
Yes. In 2005, Gary Goldman, PhD, was among the first researchers to publish an analysis of the mass use of chickenpox vaccine by children in the U.S. since 1995. His conclusion was that, by limiting the circulation of wild type Varicella Zoster virus in the population through mass vaccination, there is limited asymptomatic boosting of natural chickenpox immunity among adults, who had recovered from chickenpox as children. This would, in turn, cause an epidemic of shingles.1
In 2008 the Health Protection Agency (HPA), an independent organization formed by the government of the United Kingdom in 2003, published new modeling that confirmed that mass use of chickenpox vaccine would lead to an increase in shingles despite the shingles vaccine.2
The HPA estimated that, while mass vaccination would reduce the incidence of chickenpox in children, there is a projected increase of over 20% in the incidence of shingles in adults. The HPA confirmed that this projected increase in shingles is because adults are no longer coming in contact with natural chickenpox cases due to vaccine acquired immunity among children. In addition, studies from countries that routinely vaccinate children against chickenpox, such as the U.S., demonstrate that there is an increase in shingles in unvaccinated persons, who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.3
A study in 2002 confirmed that adults exposed to natural chickenpox disease were protected from developing shingles and that there is concern that mass vaccination against chickenpox will cause future epidemics of shingles among more than 50 percent of Americans aged 10 to 44 years.4
There are also reports that young children and teenagers, who have gotten chickenpox vaccine, are experiencing shingles as well.5
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Shingles and the Shingles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 Goldman, G.S., The Case against Universal Varicella Vaccination. Int J Toxicol. 2006 Sep-Oct;25(5):313-7.
2 The National Archives – Public Health England. Latest HPA Modelling reveals chickenpox vaccination would lead to more shingles among elderly despite introduction of shingles vaccination. Sep. 17, 2008.
4 Brisson, M., Gay, NJ, Edmunds, WJ, et al. Exposure to varicella boost immunity to herpes-zoster: implications for mass vaccination against chickenpox. Vaccine. 2002 Jun 7;20(19-20):2500-7
5 Goldman, G.S., King, P.G. Review of the United States universal varicella vaccination program: Herpes zoster incidence rates, cost-effectiveness, and vaccine efficacy based primarily on the Antelope Valley Varicella Active Surveillance Project data. Vaccine, 2013 Mar 25; 31(13): 1680–1694