High incidence of breakthrough varicella observed in healthy Japanese children immunized with live attenuated varicella vaccine (Oka strain)
Takayama, N.; Minamitani, M.; Takayama, M.
Acta Paediatrica Japonica Overseas Edition 39(6): 663-668
ISSN/ISBN: 0374-5600 PMID: 9447754 DOI: 10.1111/j.1442-200x.1997.tb03664.x
In order to know the rate of occurrence of varicella among vaccinees (breakthrough varicella: BV), questionnaire postcards were sent to 593 healthy children who had received varicella vaccine (Oka strain) from March 1987 to December 1989. The questionnaire survey was repeated once a year until January 1996. The annual attack rate from the 1st to 3rd questionnaire was approximately 12%: however, from the 5th to 8th one it was 1-4%. To February 1996, the cumulative attack rate was 157/459 (34.2%). This rate was comparable to that among vaccinees who had confirmed seroconversion; namely, 51/132 (38.6%). These rates are much higher than those reported by other authors. All BV cases were clinically mild; even subjects who had received the vaccine 7 years prior to the disease showed mild symptoms. The high incidence may be partly explained by the regional epidemiology of varicella. The decrease in annual incidence with time after vaccination may be due to the following reasons: some vaccinees remained free from BV owing to reinforcement of their immunity from subclinical infection of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and others from diminution of opportunity for exposure to VZV with increasing age. Varicella vaccine seems to be effective in modifying the symptoms of varicella, but not potent enough in protecting from VZV infection.