For Immediate Rrelease
CHICKEN POX VACCINE ASSOCIATED
WITH SHINGLES EPIDEMIC
Pearblossom, CA - New
research published in the International Journal of Toxicology
(IJT) by Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D., reveals high rates of
shingles (herpes zoster) in Americans since the government's 1995
recommendation that all children receive chicken pox vaccine.
Goldman's research supports that shingles, which results in three
times as many deaths and five times the number of hospitalizations
as chicken pox, is suppressed naturally by occasional contact with
Dr. Goldman's findings
have corroborated other independent researchers who estimate that if
chickenpox were to be nearly eradicated by vaccination, the higher
number of shingles cases could continue in the U.S. for up to 50
years; and that while death rates from chickenpox are already very
low, any deaths prevented by vaccination will be offset by deaths
from increasing shingles disease. Another recent peer-reviewed
article authored by Dr. Goldman and published in Vaccine
presents a cost-benefit analysis of the universal chicken pox (varicella)
vaccination program. Goldman points out that during a 50-year time
span, there would be an estimated additional 14.6 million (42%)
shingles cases among adults aged less than 50 years, presenting
society with a substantial additional medical cost burden of $4.1
billion. This translates into $80 million annually, utilizing an
estimated mean healthcare provider cost of $280 per shingles case.
After a child has had
varicella (chickenpox), the virus becomes dormant and can reactivate
later in adulthood in a closely related disease called
shingles--both caused by the same varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It
has long been known that adults receive natural boosting from
contact with children infected with chicken pox that helps prevent
the reactivation of shingles.
Based on Dr. Goldman's
earlier communications with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), Goldman maintains that epidemiologists from the
CDC are hoping "any possible shingles epidemic associated with the
chickenpox vaccine can be offset by treating adults with a
'shingles' vaccine." This intervention would substitute for the
boosting adults previously received naturally, especially during
seasonal outbreaks of the formerly common childhood disease.
"Using a shingles vaccine
to control shingles epidemics in adults would likely fail because
adult vaccination programs have rarely proved successful," said
Goldman. "There appears to be no way to avoid a mass epidemic of
shingles lasting as long as several generations among adults."
Goldman's analysis in
IJT indicates that effectiveness of the chickenpox vaccine
itself is also dependent on natural boosting, so that as chickenpox
declines, so does the effectiveness of the vaccine. "The principal
reason that vaccinees in Japan maintained high levels of immunity 20
years following vaccination was that only 1 in 5 (or 20%) of
Japanese children were vaccinated," he said. "So those vaccinated
received immunologic boosting from contact with children with
natural chickenpox. But the universal varicella vaccination program
in the U.S. will nearly eradicate this natural boosting mechanism
and will leave our population vulnerable to shingles epidemics."
For decades it was
thought shingles increased with age as older individuals' immune
systems declined. However, Goldman's new research shows this
phenomenon seemed primarily due to the fact that older people
received fewer natural boosts to immunity as their contacts with
young children declined.
Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D.
served for eight years as a Research Analyst with the Varicella
Active Surveillance Project conducted by the Los Angeles County
Department of Health Services (LACDHS). The project was funded by
About Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D.:
Currently serves as Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed
medical journal Medical Veritas (
). Has recently authored five manuscripts concerning varicella,
herpes zoster, and capture-recapture published in the European
journal called Vaccine.
Research published in the International Journal of Toxicology,
24(4):205-213, Universal Varicella Vaccination: Efficacy Trends and
Effect on Herpes Zoster. Also, Vaccine, 23(25):3349-3355,
Cost-benefit analysis of universal varicella vaccination in the U.S.
taking into account the closely related herpes zoster epidemiology.