You may think of chicken pox as merely an uncomfortable rite of passage for kids, but the truth is that it can have serious - even fatal - complications for children and adults alike. But since a vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration i
Female Speaker: Varicella zoster a name from a sci-fi film? No, the medical term for chickenpox. 90% of young adults have had it. Fortunately, there's now a chickenpox vaccine which has greatly reduced the number of cases of severe chicken pox in this country. Dr. Jon Abramson: The first day that it came out was available, I lined my three children up and had them vaccinated because I live in a world where I see all the complications of chickenpox. Female Speaker: According to Dr. Abramson, those complications may include pneumonia, encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, and serious skin infection. Also, anyone who's had chickenpox may later get shingles, and a quite viral infection that usually results in a rash. Dr. Jon Abramson: In children if they comes out it's usually not painful but in older specially older than 55 it tends to be very painful. Female Speaker: Unfortunately, only 7 out of 10 children in the U.S. are currently getting vaccinated against chicken pox, which means 3 out of 10 may be entering adulthood unprotected. Knowing this risk, Amy Silverstein had her twins Hannah and Rachel vaccinated at twelve months old. Amy Silverstein: I had the chickenpox when I was a child and I was fine but children do get very sick and dying, it's very uncomfortable and I don't want my children to go through that. I don't want them to have chickenpox on their eyes, in their tongue, and just very uncomfortable places. Female Speaker: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends chickenpox vaccination for any healthy child over 12 months of age who hasn't already had the disease but older children and adults can be vaccinated as well. The vaccine is about 90% effective in preventing chickenpox from occurring, and in the remaining 10% of cases, when the disease does occur, it's usually much less severe. Dr. Jon Abramson: The normal number of skin lesions of someone who hasn't been vaccinated is over 500, the normal number of skin lesions of someone who actually develops the disease who has is less than 50. So even if you get it, it's much milder. Female Speaker: That was the case for Rachel and Hannah, who developed chickenpox shortly after receiving the vaccine. Amy Silverstein: Hannah had a mild, very low-grade fever. Rachel I don't even think had one. They were actually very fine and just, you know, I tried not to take them out to too many places because they were contagious to children who had not received the vaccine and adults as well. Female Speaker: Amy was right to keep the girls at home, because children with the illness can easily pass it to someone else by touching or by releasing it into the air when they sneeze, cough, or even breathe. Dr. Jon Abramson: A child with chickenpox is actually contagious for one to two days before they break out into skin rash and that creates all sorts of problems for us. But then they're contagious until they are scabbed over. Once all their lesions are scabbed over, then they're no longer contagious, and that's usually seven within seven days of the onset of the rash. Amy Silverstein: It seems to me when I look back upon it a very short period and I would still do it again. I do not regret my decision to vaccinate the girls because you can see they're very happy, healthy well-adjusted children, who I know are not going to get a very serious case of chickenpox.