Signaling the retreat of a childhood rite of passage, the incidence of chickenpox in the United States fell by 80 percent from 2000 to 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.
The decline results from widespread use of the chickenpox vaccine, researchers said.
From 2000 to 2005, a period when a single dose of vaccine was
recommended for children 12 to 18 months old and for older unvaccinated
children, cases fell by 43 percent. The decline steepened once a second
dose was recommended in 2006, with incidence falling 72 percent in the
second half of the decade.
Chickenpox cases decreased most in children ages 1 through 9, who
were most likely to get the vaccine, according to the C.D.C. After 2006,
chickenpox decreased especially prominently in children ages 5 through
9, the group most likely to have gotten a second dose during that
The C.D.C. previously reported
significant decreases in chickenpox from 1995 to 2000, with incidence
falling by 70 to 85 percent in three communities selected for
Adriana Lopez, a C.D.C. epidemiologist and a contributor to the
report, said she was encouraged that chickenpox, also called varicella,
continues to decline.
“Based on this study, we’ve seen that the varicella vaccination
program, including the second dose, is working to decrease disease,” she