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, 31 (2), 96-103

Varicella Virus Vaccination in the United States


Varicella Virus Vaccination in the United States

Jana Shaw et al. Viral Immunol.


Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the cause of chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (zoster), and was once responsible for over 4 million infections in the United States annually. The development of a live attenuated VZV vaccine was initially viewed with extreme skepticism. Nonetheless, a VZV vaccine was developed in the 1970s by Takahashi and his colleagues in Japan and was eventually licensed in the US. It is now known to be one of the safest and most effective vaccines available and is administered worldwide. Here are described important factors that contributed to the successful research and licensure of the highly successful VZV vaccine.

Keywords: latent virus; varicella vaccine; varicella zoster virus.

Conflict of interest statement

Dr. Gershon consults when invited for Merck and GSK. She has NIH funding to study VZV. No competing financial interests exist.


<b>FIG. 1.</b>
FIG. 1.
Diagram of VZV infection illustrating time, immunity, and zoster following onset of varicella in childhood. Boosts in immunity occur after exogenous re-exposure to VZV and also after periodic reactivations (which are often asymptomatic) of the virus over time. With increasing age, immunity fails to control reactivating VZV, resulting in clinical zoster. Zoster then further boosts immunity. VZV, varicella zoster virus.
<b>FIG. 2.</b>
FIG. 2.
Varicella incidence per 100,000 population* in states that have reported varicella cases to CDC annually before implementation of the varicella vaccination program—Illinois, Michigan, Texas, and West Virginia, 1990–2014. Source: Lopez et al. (41).

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