Burden of varicella in Central and Eastern Europe: findings from a systematic literature review

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2019 Mar;18(3):281-293. doi: 10.1080/14760584.2019.1573145. Epub 2019 Feb 27.


Introduction: Vaccination against varicella rapidly reduces disease incidence, resulting in reductions in both individual burden and societal costs. Despite these benefits, there is no standardization of varicella immunization policies in Europe, including countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Areas covered: This systematic literature review identified publications on the epidemiology of varicella, its associated health and economic burden, and vaccination strategies within the CEE region, defined as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Twenty-six studies were identified from a search of PubMed, Embase®, and MEDLINE® biomedical literature databases, supplemented by gray literature and country-specific/global websites.

Expert commentary: Limited information exists in published studies on the burden of varicella in CEE. The wide variability in incidence rates between countries is likely explained by a lack of consistency in reporting systems. Funded universal varicella vaccination (UVV) in CEE is currently available only in Latvia as a one-dose schedule, but Hungary together with Latvia are introducing a two-dose strategy in 2019. For countries that do not provide UVV, introduction of vaccination is predicted to provide substantial reductions in cases and rates of associated complications, with important economic benefits.

Keywords: Burden of illness; Central and Eastern Europe; systematic literature review; vaccination; varicella.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chickenpox / economics
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control
  • Chickenpox Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Europe, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*


  • Chickenpox Vaccine