Canadian Paediatric Society recommends second shot against chickenpox

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
OTTAWA—All children should receive a second shot to protect them against chickenpox, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends in a statement published today. The CPS is also calling for public funding of the booster vaccine.

“Without a second dose, there is evidence that some children will lose immunity as they get older and will be at risk of illness as an adult,” explains Dr. Marina Salvadori, author of the statement. “Adults who get chickenpox have more serious illness, are more likely to get pneumonia and to be admitted to hospital. They also have a higher death rate from the disease.”

Since 1999, the CPS has recommended that all Canadian children be vaccinated against chickenpox. By 2007, all Canadian provinces and territories had routine immunization programs in place for one dose of vaccine. Since the universal program was introduced, Immunization Monitoring Program ACTive, the CPS paediatric hospital-based national surveillance network, has reported that the number of chickenpox-related hospitalizations has decreased by up to 84 per cent in some provinces. Despite this very successful program, there is increasing evidence that children who receive only one dose of vaccine are not protected for life

Children get their first dose of the vaccine between 12 and 18 months, and should receive the booster dose when they are 4 to 6 years old. Teens who have never had chickenpox should get two shots, at least 4 weeks apart. A two-dose schedule should improve chickenpox immune response and vaccine effectiveness.

“To be effective the program should also include good catch-up programs so that all children who have received a first dose are offered the booster dose,” said Dr. Salvadori.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents nearly 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.