A Double Dose of Protection

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Since 1995 children have been required to get one vaccination for chicken pox. Most kids receive the vaccine when they're between 12 and 18 months. Now physicians are saying kids should get another chicken pox vaccination to be protected from more serious diseases and even death.

Before the chicken pox vaccinations started at least 13, 500 people were hospitalized a year with some symptom of chicken pox. Of those cases, 150 people died.

Dr. Christopher Saenz is a pediatrician with the University Pediatric Association and says a booster dose of the varicella, or chicken pox vaccine, can help build a child's resistance to the virus.

"It's important to give a booster dose which basically causes your body to build more immunity against the disease", Saenz said.

He says of those kids who get the mandatory vaccine as a small child, 20 to 30 percent of them could develop chicken pox despite the protection. However their symptoms are milder because of the initial shot they received.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to decrease the number of those breakthrough infections. In June of 2006 the CDC began recommending that children between the ages of four and six get a second shot.

It's likely that many kids have already received the second chicken pox vaccine. During the rush to get shot records up to date for school requirements, some local medical facilities offer the booster dose at the same time. The Brazos County Health Department and University Pediatric Association have already began giving the additional dose of the vaccine.

Dr. Saenz said, "Currently at University Pediatric our four year olds are children who come in for their four to six year old well visit prior to going to school will currently receive MMR and varicella vaccine combined."

In addition to young school age children physicians are also recommending children born before before 1994 and adults get the shots as well. A 13 year old who has never had a chicken pox vaccine would need to take the suggested double dose within a specific time frame. Once the teenager receives the initial shot they would need to take the second booster shot 28 days later.

A child and an adult who has received at least one chicken pox vaccine can receive their booster dose anytime.