Chickenpox vaccine increases the risk of shingles in younger adults. Shingles and chickenpox are both caused by the varicella-zoster virus both luckily there is a vaccine in order to reduce the risk of contracting both conditions. Chickenpox is more commonly seen in children and shingles are more common in older adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children one year of age to 12 years old receive their first varicella vaccine between 12 to 15 months of age and the second at four to six years of age. Children over the age of 13 should receive two additional doses of the varicella vaccine spaces between four to eight weeks apart.
For the singles vaccine that is recommended for adults over the age of 50 who have healthy immune systems. Originally the shingles vaccine was for those over the age of 60 but the FDA lowered the recommendation to 50 in 2011. The CDC has not put the shingles vaccine on their list of recommendations and many insurance companies do not pay for this vaccine which may lower the amount of people who actually receive it.
A recent study outlined that vaccinating one-year-olds for chickenpox could temporarily double the risk of shingles in young adults. When an infant is vaccinated it reduces the likelihood of adults being re-exposed to the virus. Re-exposure is important because it allows the body to create antibodies against shingles; therefore if adults are not re-exposed to the virus they are more likely to develop shingles.
The study predicted that the temporary effect in the rise of shingles could be seen in those aged 31 to 40 years. This is a younger age group than what is commonly seen to attract shingles which are seniors.
Lead author Dr Benson Ogunjimi, said, “We were surprised to find that re-exposure to chickenpox is beneficial for so few years and also that the most pronounced effect of vaccination on increasing cases of shingles is in younger adults. Our findings should allay some fears about implementing childhood chickenpox vaccination.”
Some countries have already avoided universal chickenpox vaccination in order to reduce the rise in shingles in adults. The new model uses more accurate data than previous models which researchers suggest policy makers should consider when it comes to vaccination of children for the chickenpox.