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U.S. Chickenpox Vaccination Program
A Public Health Success Story
The chickenpox (varicella) vaccination program has made a significant public health and economic impact since it started in 1995. The United States became the first country to include the vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunization schedule.
Before the program began, chickenpox used to be very common in the country. Each year in the early 90s, there were more than 4 million cases of chickenpox, 10,500 to 13,500 hospitalizations, and 100 to 150 deaths in the United States. Most of the cases and hospitalizations and half the deaths were among children.
Now, chickenpox is rare in the United States, with fewer than 150,000 cases, 1,400 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths each year. Summarizing the first 25 years of the vaccination program, CDC and its collaborators published 14 manuscripts in a special supplement in the Journal of Infectious Diseases—highlighting the success of this important vaccine.