Kids who get chickenpox vaccine may have a lower risk of shingles

Researchers found that children who received the varicella vaccination, which was introduced in 1996, not only were protected against chickenpox but they also had a lower chance of becoming infected with herpes zoster, or shingles, compared with children who were not vaccinated against chickenpox. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Using records from six integrated U.S. health organizations, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research combed through the data of more than 6 million children ages 17 years and younger during a 12-year study period (from 2003–14). Approximately 50% of the children were vaccinated for some or all of the study period. Strikingly, the rate of shingles incidence was 78% lower among vaccinated children compared with unvaccinated children. Over the study period, the rate of shingles declined by 72% as the number of vaccinated children rose.

"Our findings demonstrate that the vaccine does reduce the likelihood of shingles in kids, highlighting the dual benefits of the chickenpox vaccine,” said lead author Sheila Weinmann, PhD, in a press statement.

Researchers looked at the incidence rates of shingles overall, noted Weinmann, and how many cases there were per 100,000 person-years.

"We saw the highest rates of [shingles] in the early years of the study when there was a higher proportion of children, particularly older children, who had not received the varicella vaccine."

The study was funded by CDC.