Age-specific incidence of chickenpox

Public Health Rep. Nov-Dec 1994;109(6):750-5.


Because licensure of a chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is likely soon, it is important to ascertain the age-specific incidence of chickenpox. Increasing vaccine coverage and a resulting decrease in transmission may result in an accumulation of susceptible adults, followed by a shift of incidence into those older age groups in future years. Valid baseline age-specific incidence will make it possible to detect this phenomenon. Two studies were conducted in Kentucky to assess age-specific incidence of chickenpox. The first assessed chickenpox occurrence in two consecutive school-year cohorts of children from a geographically representative sample of Kentucky primary schools. The second gathered information from household members of those persons interviewed in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone survey. The age-specific rates are remarkably similar between studies. Rates peak during the preschool and kindergarten years (ages 3-6). Approximately 20 percent of children remain susceptible to chickenpox after age 8 in both studies. The results from these two surveys will be valuable baselines for comparison with findings in incidence studies that will be performed after vaccine licensure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control
  • Chickenpox / transmission
  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Drug Approval
  • Health Surveys
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Kentucky / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance* / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Viral Vaccines


  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Viral Vaccines