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Chickenpox Vaccine May Increase Shingles Risk

Shingles on stomachStory Highlights
  • Following recovery from varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus infection, the virus lies dormant and occasionally reactivates as herpes zoster (shingles) later in life.
  • When the live virus chickenpox vaccine was licensed in 1995, it was known that an increase in the incidence of shingles was likely if the vaccine was mandated and children obtained artificial vaccine immunity rather than natural immunity.
  • The predicted increase in shingles incidence has been verified, and future research may more fully explain if and why natural “exogenous boosting” prevents reactivation of the chickenpox virus as shingles.

Before the licensing of the live varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus vaccine in 1995 and subsequent mandating of the vaccine for all children in the U.S., chickenpox itself was considered one of the milder “rites of passage” for children and the vast majority of children experienced the common childhood disease before age ten. Most people have heard about how parents commonly held so-called “chickenpox parties” to expose their little ones to the highly contagious but generally mild viral infection and get it out of the way, instead of chancing the illness cropping up at an inopportune time, in the middle of a vacation for example.

When the vaccine was licensed 20 years ago, there were about 50 to 100 deaths related to chickenpox complications reported in the U.S. every year, mostly among the immune compromised, with roughly half being children and half being adults.1 In this post-vaccination era, public health officials present chickenpox as a very serious disease with frequent complications, albeit one that they say has been almost eliminated and rendered harmless thanks to a successful mass vaccination program.

Rarely talked about is the fact that the protective effects of vaccine acquired artificial immunity do not last as long as naturally acquired immunity following recovery from the natural disease. After the CDC recommendation in 1995 that all children get one dose of chickenpox vaccine at between 12 and 15 months old failed to prevent varicella zoster virus from circulating, the CDC added a booster dose of the vaccine in 2007 for children four to six years old.2

Chickenpox in adulthood is associated with a much higher rate of pneumonia and other complications, such as brain inflammation, than when it is experienced as a mild disease by young children. Because the varicella zoster virus lies dormant in the body following recovery from chickenpox, there is another drawback to widespread vaccination: It may lead to an increase in the incidence of herpes zoster (shingles), a painful condition that occurs when the latent chickenpox virus becomes reactivated in later life.

Increase in Shingles Predicted from the Beginning

Before and after the licensing of the chickenpox vaccine, many researchers and consumer advocates predicted that reducing the childhood incidence of varicella zoster infections by vaccinating every child could have the unwelcome result of increasing the incidence and severity of herpes zoster infection (shingles).3

The concern was so widespread that many countries opted out of child mass vaccination campaigns to prevent chickenpox. The rationale behind the hesitation lies with the phenomenon known as “exogenous boosting,” meaning that exposure to children with active varicella zoster infection leads to a passive (asymptomatic) natural boosting of an individual’s chickenpox immunity and protects against later reactivation of the virus as herpes zoster (shingles).4

Numerous studies published within the first decade following introduction of the chickenpox vaccine have borne out the validity of the hypothesis, many of them outlined in a book by medical journalist Neil Z. Miller, Critical Vaccine Studies (New Atlantean Press, Santa Fe, NM, 2016). One study from 2002 looked at data from 244 patients and 485 controls and reported that re-exposure to varicella-zoster virus via contact with children offered as much as a 20 per cent reduction in risk for herpes zoster (shingles).  These researchers warned that,

“Reduction of childhood varicella by vaccination might lead to increased incidence of adult zoster.5

Also in 2002, other researchers reported that exposure to the chickenpox virus experienced by adults living with children prior to the introduction of the vaccine was “highly protective against zoster (Incidence ratio=0.75, 95% CI, 0.63–0.89),” and they too predicted that “mass varicella vaccination [would be] expected to cause a major epidemic of herpes-zoster, affecting more than 50% of those aged 10–44 years at the introduction of vaccination.”6

A study was published in 2005 reporting that,

“Some studies suggest that re-exposure to [chickenpox] after primary infection may decrease the risk of herpes zoster through immunologic boosting. If this is the case, widespread use of varicella vaccine could, by reducing circulating [chickenpox], increase the incidence of herpes zoster over the first few decades of universal childhood vaccination.”7 

In 2013, a review of the U.S. varicella vaccine program was published in the medical journal, Vaccine, which revealed that having fewer opportunities for exposure to people infected with varicella zoster, who are shedding the wild-strain chickenpox virus has, in fact, significantly increased the risk for reactivation of the virus that causes shingles. The review’s authors said that this increase in morbidity “has disproportionately offset cost savings associated with reductions in varicella disease.” Their conclusion:

“Universal varicella vaccination has failed to provide long-term protection from VZV [shingles] disease.8 

Another examination of the evidence was published in 2013 and provided additional confirmation of the validity of the exogenous boosting hypothesis in a meticulous review of 40 studies that used a variety of study designs including mathematical models and observational, epidemiological, prospective longitudinal, and other types of designs.9 The researchers concluded that, while exogenous boosting does take place, further study is needed, with more well-defined parameters, to better clarify the true impact of immunologic boosting provided by exposure to chickenpox.

Predictions are Coming True, With Some Surprises

Most researchers agree that the incidence of shingles has increased dramatically over the years since the chickenpox vaccine was introduced, but disagree with each about the role played by the vaccine. Some allege that rates of shingles were beginning to increase before wide-scale vaccination. Admitting that an alternative explanation has yet to be determined, the strategy of public health officials in preventing shingles continues to focus on strongly encouraging every adult to get the live virus herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine.10

Although disagreements remain, the evidence is mounting that the increased incidence of shingles is directly related to the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine. No differences were seen in the first five years of the chickenpox vaccination campaign, but by 2001 the rate was clearly rising and by 2004, the rates of shingles were “significantly higher thanany of the rates calculated during the years prior to 2002,” and more than offset the decreased hospitalizations and hospital charges associated with the decline in chickenpox.11

A case report published in 2014 described a nine-year old boy, who developed shingles after receiving chickenpox vaccine. This highlights the potential for the development of  vaccine strain varicella zoster infection that leads to shingles. Authors stated:

“The medical community should be aware that vaccination can lead to the occurrence of shingles in the same way that natural infection with wild-type varicella-zoster virus can.”12

They added, “Vaccinated patients with subsequent zoster should be considered contagious.”

Not only does a recent research model predict that “implementing a varicella vaccination program for children would almost double the number of shingles cases 31 years later,” at least temporarily, it suggests that the increase will occur primarily in much younger people than is usual with shingles,13 which has traditionally been found mainly in older adults.14 The new research model also suggests that, while re-exposure to chickenpox it was originally believed to provide close to 20 years of protection against shingles, immunologic and virologic data indicate that the immunity boost may be much shorter, closer to two years.


References:

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention of Varicella: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR July 12, 1996; 45(RR11): 1-25.
2 CDC. Prevention of Varicella: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR June 22, 2007. 56(RR04): 1-40.
3 
NBC-TV “Today Show.” NVIC’s Barbara Loe Fisher debates varicella zoster (chickenpox) vaccine developer Anne Gershon, MD about licensing of the vaccine. Mar. 20, 1995.
4 
Ogunjimi B, Van Damme P, et al. Herpes Zoster Risk Reduction through Exposure to Chickenpox Patients: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review. Plos One June 21, 2013.
5 Thomas SL etal. Contacts with varicella or with children and protection against herpes zoster in adults: a case-control study. The Lancet August, 2002.
6 Brisson M et al. Exposure to varicella boosts immunity to herpes-zoster: implications for mass vaccination against chickenpox. Vaccine June 2002.
7 Yih WK, et al. The incidence of varicella and herpes zoster in Massachusetts as measured by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) during a period of increasing varicella vaccine coverage, 1998–2003
8 Goldman GS, King PG. Review of the United States universal varicella vaccination program: Herpes zoster incidence rates, cost-effectiveness, and vaccine efficacy based primarily on the Antelope Valley Varicella Active Surveillance Project data. Vaccine Mar. 25, 2013.
9 
Ogunjimi B, Van Damme P, et al. Herpes Zoster Risk Reduction through Exposure to Chickenpox Patients: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review. Plos One June 21, 2013.
10 
CDC. Prevention of Herpes Zoster: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR June 6, 2008; 57(05): 1-30.
11 
Patel MS, et al. Herpes Zoster–Related Hospitalizations and Expenditures Before and After Introduction of the Varicella Vaccine in the United States. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology December 2008.
12 
Cimolai N et al. Herpes zoster eruption associated with vaccine-strain varicella-zoster virus: A case report. BC Medical Journal April, 2014.
13 Brisson M et al. Exposure to varicella boosts immunity to herpes-zoster: implications for mass vaccination against chickenpox. Vaccine June 2002.
14 eLife. Chickenpox vaccination does increase shingles cases, but mainly in young adults. Science Daily Aug. 11, 2015.

30 Responses to Chickenpox Vaccine May Increase Shingles Risk

  1. MG Reply

    November 19, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Would it be recommended to try to expose your children to chicken pox so they don’t get it later in life?

  2. Brenan Reply

    August 25, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    WOw, thank you everyone for sharing this information. I am in the same boat as most new parents out there. I am 29 and I feel that our child should not get this vaccine but my lady disagrees. If she does not get the vaccine, we have to pull her out of school. This shit is so scary. I am so confused. I have no idea whats actually in this vaccine and im sure the doctors dont either. I am sure, they are doing what their medical school is telling them what to do which is ran by our government and its all some bullshit. Please tell me if I am wrong, I am now a sponge again.

  3. Jean Reply

    May 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I have unfortunately been mandated to have several Boosters as a result of working in hospitals as a RN. I had no choice during nursing school or in many hospitals I have worked at but fortunately can still refuse the flu vaccine. As a young otherwise healthy individual I’ve had pneumonia and shingles within months of varicella booster, MMR, and DTap boosters. (Separate occasions, years apart). I’m currently trying to leave the hospital setting due to the forced vaccinations & I fear for the future health of so many people who don’t question, or think for themselves. We are being taken over by pharma and people need to wake up & speak up. Thank you NVIC for all you do & support!

  4. carol pausch Reply

    April 28, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I had chicken pox as an youngster. Never had any vaccine. I acquired shingles 50 years later on the left side of my face/scalp/nose/eye. Since then I was recommended to get the “shingles shot”. And I do. When I did get shingles, it definitely was because of the stress level of my life at that time. It was not until the blisters appeared on my forehead did the drs. know what it was. My left eye was TOTAL red bloodshot, so they treated me for an eye infection for 3 days prior. Never had I had so much pain as when I had shingles—-it was worse than a full fledged migraine—-and I get them, too. The shingles affected my sight in my left eye, I doctored with a specialist for a year with that and can not tolerate sunlight in my left eye.If there ever was a time I wanted to die, it was when I had shingles——there god awful.

    • Redpill1 Reply

      April 28, 2016 at 7:52 am

      You do realize that the Shingles Shot is nothing more than a more concentrated version of the Chicken Pox Vaccine which means you have allowed the virus to be put back into your system. Shingles can occur when the immune system is weak but it can also occur when you come into contact with a person who had recently been vaccinated or from a person who has chicken pox but is asymptomatic. When the vaccine was first put on the market Doctors would tell parents to keep the vaccinated child away from younger siblings for while (never said how long)and keep them away from Grandparents for a few weeks. Now they don’t because they don’t want to let people know how contagious the vaccine is. This is what a FDA study reported years ago when a person is injected with a vaccine:

      In 1995, Golding and Scott, published the need for strategies to make vaccines that would generate the “required” Th cell to the corresponding microorganism. Since that time, attempts to produce vaccines that would generate a “natural”- type response have failed. So, we are left with vaccines that generate “protective” responses as a second choice. How does this work? In vaccine-induced Th2 responses, called humoral responses, the body produces large quantities of specific antibodies that block the virus from entering cells. This response is why a vaccinated child doesn’t get a full blown infection and why the child won’t spread as many viruses into the environment. However, antibodies cannot get into cells to eliminate viruses once the viruses are in the cells or cannot kill infected cells themselves. Therefore, the body has no choice other than to internalize the virus and be chronically infected when the body is forced into a Th2 antibody response. The body is essentially constipated with viruses that it cannot expel! (Vaccine Strategies: Targeting Helper T Cell Responses BASIL GOLDING and DOROTHY E. SCOTT) Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

      The Shingles vaccine may have contributed to immune system damage which is why you experienced various other related ailments.

      -Study suggests chicken pox vaccine responsible for triggering nationwide shingles epidemic:http://www.naturalnews.com/038997_chicken_pox_vaccine_shingles_epidemic.html#ixzz2KJBlm2gW

      -A Pox on the CDC’s Vaccination Agenda: The Rise of Herpes Zoster (Shingles)http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/pox-cdc%E2%80%99s-vaccination-agenda-rise-herpes-zoster-shingles.

      -CHICKEN POX VACCINE ASSOCIATED WITH SHINGLES EPIDEMIC
      http://www.whale.to/vaccines/gold.html

      The virus is still in your system via the vaccine. One way to purge it is to use a good quality Colloidal Silver. I know a couple of people who got rid of symptoms of Shingles in a few days taking it internally and spraying the blisters with it.

  5. Karen Lyke Reply

    April 27, 2016 at 8:19 am

    One explanation of shingles is that it’s an effort by the body to eliminate toxins and other metabolic debris not eliminated via the bowels as part of the ongoing, daily ‘house cleaning’. In other words, wastes not eliminated via feces nor the breath or urine end up accumulating in the connective tissue surrounding cells and under the skin. When this reservoir becomes overloaded, it becomes evident in the skin as rashes, color changes (‘liver spots’), boils etc and eruptions such as shingles. This perspective, described in greater detail as part of homotoxicology, would account for why shingles might occur after exposure to pathogens or other toxins besides chicken pox viruses.

  6. Melann Reply

    April 27, 2016 at 5:08 am

    I Am a doctor of chiropractic who has worked with shingles outbreaks. Go to a good chiropractor and get adjusted. The breakout never crosses the spine and follows a nerve root dermatomal pattern. If the dc can identify which nerve it is and follow it back to the spinal disc level and adjust it correctly the shingles virus will go back to its dormant state in the dorsal root ganglia. But the one thing I have noticed with all the patients I have worked with is that they all have high stress in their life. A great was to prevent it is to work on managing your stress levels now. You can meditate get massages get under regular chiropractic care, acupuncture, breathing techniques, or go to a happy place. Good luck to you all.

  7. Redpill1 Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    This is a new one. My granddaughter was given the Dtap last year and developed a mild case of pertussis from it. Her father, developed shingles after she had the Dtap. I still am trying to figure that one out.

  8. Maria Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 11:12 am

    All the grandparents got the shingles shortly after my kids chicken pox shot, which I didn’t want my kids to have, but was either bullied or not told what shot they were getting.

  9. Lina Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 10:46 am

    My unvaccinated toddler picked up chicken pox from one of his vaccinated friends, and I was surprised to see him recover in less than a week. As soon as I realized what it was I started giving him a daily bath with dead sea salts – three days later it was over. It took a bit over a week for the scars to heal, other than that, no issues at all. His older brother was exposed to it, but didn’t contract the disease.
    I feel bad for all those parents who fall for a myth that chicken pox is a threatening disease and vaccinate their children as a result.

  10. Stephen J Sanborn Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 10:10 am

    ” Some allege that rates of shingles were beginning to increase before wide-scale vaccination.”
    Perhaps this was due to there being less children for adults to come into contact….smaller families,fewer children.

  11. Louise Kerr Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 9:48 am

    When I was about 30, I got shingles after being exposed to a child with Chicken pox. I think I am struggling with Bells palsy now after being exposed to someone who got a shingles vaccine.

  12. Stephanie Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Dominique, you are right it is not news. There have been many studies anyone can find on pubmed (peer reviewed journal articles). However, The Lancet just decided this month to state the obvious. Which is why this article has been posted. The Lancet I guess wants doctors to think it has just been realized.

  13. Heather Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 9:30 am

    There is noaye about it. When my eldest daughter was 11 years old, having never had the chicken pox, she received this vaccine and a week later had shingles. She suffers from shingles at least once a year ever since.

    • D Reply

      May 7, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      @Heather – herpes class viruses are susceptible to high doses of lysine and the body needs a lot of vitamin C to fight them off. There are a couple of other things that can help. These are for and adult – scale to weight for a child:

      Lysine – 2-5 grams per day in divided doses.
      (Competes with Argenine.)

      Vitamin C – 1gm/4 hours.

      Glycine – 1/2 gm every meal
      Inositol – regularly

      BHT – Butylated hydroxytoluene – 250-750 mg/d.
      A food preservative that also hinders herpes virus replication

  14. Shawn Siegel Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 9:17 am

    What those researchers in the 90’s, who indeed projected that the varicella vaccine would result in increased shingles incidence, didn’t foresee was the increase of shingles in infants and toddlers. Before ’95, the year the vaccine was licensed, shingles was reserved almost exclusively for adults in midlife or older. Starting in ’95, and continuing, each year little kids are developing shingles, some less than a year old – obviously in those babies who for whatever reason are given the shot before the recommended twelve months.

    Vaccination’s a travesty. In this instance, it’s skewed the period of natural shingles display by decades.

  15. Mark Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 8:47 am

    All 3 of my children had the chicken pox. Being an alternative health care practitioner myself, I knew what to give them to ride out the issue. What I didn’t know was how quickly they would recover. My daughter and oldest son took only 2 1/2 days to completely heal – they were back in school on day 4. My youngest son took 4 days because he could not swallow capsules and the taste of the ingredients were not pleasant and he fought taken it. He was back in school on Monday, day 6. Now they are immune forever. Every patient I’ve worked with who has shingles received the vaccine months or up to a year beforehand. Personally, I believe shingles is the direct result of the vaccine. Over the years, both the media and docs say we already have the virus and THAT is why people get shingles. I say WRONG, it’s those who have been vaccinated who end up having shingles.

    • KATHI Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 10:14 am

      I had chickenpox approx 60 years ago,I’m now 66,and I never had the shingles vaccine.However,this past Dec.I had a horrible case of shingles.The pain started in my left leg, below the knee.The pain was only at night and felt like a shin splint.No other symptoms of shingles for 5 days.At 3:00 a.m. on the 5th morning the pain was so bad I went to the emergency room to be sure I didn’t have a blood clot in my leg.My blood pressure was 180/100 from the pain.The ER doctor ruled out a blood clot and said he didn’t know what it was and for me to follow up with my primary care doc and gave me a pain med script. 3 days later the blisters appeared on the front of my shin. I had excruciating pain every night for a month. The pain meds did very little. It was 3 wks before all the scabs were gone.I was in good health and was shocked I got shingles.

      • Redpill1 Reply

        April 26, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        Children recently vaccinated with the chicken pox vaccine can cause shingles in other people. the thing is, most are unaware when they come into contact with a vaccinated child.

    • Punita Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Thanks for your comments, Mark. I’m very interested to know what was in the capsules you gave your children that helped them to recover from the chicken pox so quickly. Were you able to relieve the severe itchiness as well? With complete healing in such a short time, there must have been very little, if any, scarring.

      • Mark Reply

        April 28, 2016 at 3:35 pm

        Punita,

        CAVEAT – I do not receive any monetary compensation or any benefits whatsoever, by giving out this information. I do this as a parent so other parents can help their children.

        I used 3 enzyme formulations from a company called Enzyme Formulations which is only sold through enzyme therapists certified by the Loomis Institute. Here’s a link to find a practitioner:

        http://www.foodenzymeinstitute.com/

        Those formulas are named MSCLR, Lvr and Opt. Find someone in your area to explain how to use them. My children barely experience any itching – it was minimal if at all. None of them had any scarring. In fact 2 of them did not have the typical red, pox marks. And yes they were diagnosed by doctors. My daughter came down with it on a Thursday. She was with me Friday and all weekend. Saturday night she had a great many “pox” marks but without itching. I was worried she would have a miserable night and wake up Sunday itching and with more marks. To my delight and surprise, she slept peacefully and woke up Sunday without any marks – none at all! Monday she was in school to everyone’s shock.

    • Jessica Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Mark,

      You’re incorrect, Shingles is not a direct result of the vaccine. I had chicken pox when I was 5, a mild case compared to my brother and sisters, but I developed Shingles last year and I’ve never had a chicken pox or Shingles vaccine. The virus lays dormant in your body, I was under a lot of stress and developed a case that was, again, mild. I used mega doses of l-lysine and it went away within 8 days, I have no nerve pain or scaring. I might add I’m only in my 30’s and my children have not been vaccinated so it wasn’t caused by them. Also, they didn’t develop chicken pox either after being exposed to my Shingles outbreak, as I was hoping they would.

    • Julie Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      My sister’s four children all had chicken pox, and two of them have had shingles.

      My three oldest children have had chicken pox, but my youngest three have not had the disease; they are all now teenagers, and I am uncertain what I should do since the disease is reportedly worse as adults, and especially since they are girls, and I understand that chicken pox during pregnancy would be a problem.

      • Kathryn Jackson Reply

        April 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

        Julie, you can see a reputable homeopath. They can safely inoculate your older children and at the same time boost the immunity of the younger children.

  16. RR Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 8:38 am

    After reading this, I was shocked because in 1995, my sister, who was 21 at the time, got a terrible case of the shingles. The unusual thing was that she has never had chicken pox and she was a nanny for a pediatrician, who worked at a prominent children’s hospital, whose children had just received the live virus. I’m now wondering if a correlation? Unfortunately, the shingles destroyed my sisters immune system and she states she’s never been the same, since.

    • Janet Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Are you kidding me??? You are wondering after the story you just told,and all that you have just read, IF there is a correlation? The biggest problem we face today is that people can’t think for themselves. Even when the truth smacks them in the face, they still want the so called ” Authorities” to tell them what to do. THAT is our biggest problem. We need to wake up! Look at what’s happening and decide to do what makes sense to us! How much more evidence do you need to realize that this so called health care system has nothing to do with health. We are allowing them to inject what ever they please into our children and ourselves so that they can perpetuate their system of creating illness and then prescribing drugs for treatment, over and over again, putting people on a path of slow destruction and reliance on their system. I apologize for the rant, but it comes from my heart and from experience. I have been awake and paying attention to what has been going on for 32 years. It’s disheartening to have to keep witnessing this tragedy over and over again. Good luck and good learning to you.

    • Redpill1 Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      If your sister was exposed to the chicken pox virus she could have been infected but asymptomatic which would put her in play for shingles.

  17. Dominique Jeannot Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 7:36 am

    This is not news. It has always been the case. I was informed by medical professionals when I contracted shingles a few years ago.

    • David Pierce Reply

      April 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      True. I was wondering why this was written up as something recently discovered. But we do read in the article that studies of 2002 and 2004 confirm this.

      • Redpill1 Reply

        April 26, 2016 at 6:02 pm

        This is being reported again because there is a push on for schoolchildren to have this shot. There are millions of parent who are still unaware of the dangers of vaccines and those just now coming to the party are probably reading about this for the first time. People are becoming aware so there will be lots of vaccine 101 articles.

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