Exposure to varicella boosts immunity to herpes-zoster: implications for mass vaccination against chickenpox

Vaccine. 2002 Jun 7;20(19-20):2500-7. doi: 10.1016/s0264-410x(02)00180-9.


We present data to confirm that exposure to varicella boosts immunity to herpes-zoster. We show that exposure to varicella is greater in adults living with children and that this exposure is highly protective against zoster (Incidence ratio=0.75, 95% CI, 0.63-0.89). The data is used to parameterise a mathematical model of varicella zoster virus (VZV) transmission that captures differences in exposure to varicella in adults living with and without children. Under the 'best-fit' model, exposure to varicella is estimated to boost cell-mediated immunity for an average of 20 years (95% CI, 7-41years). Mass varicella vaccination is expected to cause a major epidemic of herpes-zoster, affecting more than 50% of those aged 10-44 years at the introduction of vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chickenpox / immunology*
  • Chickenpox Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Herpes Zoster / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Middle Aged


  • Chickenpox Vaccine