The case against universal varicella vaccination

Int J Toxicol. 2006 Sep-Oct;25(5):313-7. doi: 10.1080/10915810600870591.


In 1995, the United States became the first country to implement a Universal Varicella Vaccination Program. Several questions remain: Is the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine needed? Is it cost effective as a routine immunization for all susceptible children? Or is it more beneficial for the disease to remain endemic so that adults may receive periodic exogenous exposures (boosts) that help suppress the reactivation of herpes zoster (shingles). In addition, as vaccination coverage becomes widespread, does loss of immunologic boosting cause a decline in vaccine efficacy and result in a reduced period of immunity? Scientific literature regarding safety of the varicella vaccine and its associated cost-benefit analysis have often reported optimistic evaluations based on ideal assumptions. Deleterious outcomes and their associated costs must be included when making a circumspect assessment of the Universal Varicella Vaccination Program.

MeSH terms

  • Chickenpox / prevention & control*
  • Chickenpox Vaccine* / adverse effects
  • Chickenpox Vaccine* / economics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology
  • Herpes Zoster / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Mass Vaccination* / adverse effects
  • Mass Vaccination* / economics
  • United States


  • Chickenpox Vaccine