Let’s take quick look back at the history of chickenpox.Prior to 1996, there was no vaccine and chickenpox was one of those diseases where a few kids in a community would get it and then it would run through the community and everyone would have a few bad days and then it would have run its course. Of course a few people would do a lot less well and more importantly, it affects older people far more significantly so any adults who hadn’t had chickenpox as a child could be facing a more serious illness.
After the vaccine became available its usage spread fairly rapidly, soon becoming mandatory in most school districts. Then in 2006, a second or booster vaccine became required when people realized the initial vaccine wasn’t always effective. Chickenpox has always been looked on as a relatively mild disease but in fact prior to 1996, 11,000 people a year got sick enough to have to go to hospital and about 150 people a year died from it. That death rate has fallen by a fantastic 97% – or in other words only four or five people are now dying from chickenpox per year. That is a fantastic result and demonstration of how concerted public health efforts can pay dividends. It also shows why the global efforts first against smallpox, then polio and now malaria are so very important.