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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013 Jun;9(6):1303-7. doi: 10.4161/hv.23943. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Secular trends of chickenpox among military population in Israel in relation to introduction of varicella zoster vaccine 1979-2010.

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Army Health Branch; Medical Corps; Israeli Defense Forces; Tel Hashomer, Isreal; Sackler Faculty of Medicine;Tel Aviv University; Tel Aviv, Israel; Department of Dermatology; Rabin Medical Center; Beilinson Campus; Petach Tikva, Israel; These authors contributed equally to this work.


Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. There is scarce data on long-term trends of chickenpox and its relation to vaccinations practices. We aimed to evaluate trends of chickenpox in a military population during the period 1979-2010 and to assess temporal associations in relation with the introduction of varicella zoster vaccine to the civilian population in Israel in 2000. The archives of the Epidemiology Section of the Israel Defense Forces, where chickenpox is a notifiable disease, were reviewed for all cases of chickenpox from January 1, 1979-December 31, 2010. Annual and monthly incidence rates were calculated and analyzed in relation to vaccine introduction. Between 1979-2000, incidence rates fluctuated around 10 cases per 10,000 soldiers without a clear trend. Since 2000 there has been a dramatic 10-fold decline in incidence, especially notable since 2008, from eight per 10,000 soldiers in 2000 to the lowest rate ever recorded, in 2009, of 0.57 cases per 10,000 soldiers. A seasonal sinusoidal pattern was clearly demonstrated, with rising incidence from November to May followed by a gradual decline to October. The results of this long-term study suggest that the rates of chickenpox in the military population have significantly declined since the introduction of the vaccine to the civilian population in Israel and almost disappeared completely since 2008 as the vaccine was included in the state-funded routine childhood immunization schedule. These findings underscore the need for a strong surveillance system and will aid in determing vaccination policies.


chickenpox; epidemiology; seasonality; vaccination policy; vaccine; varicella zoster virus; young adult

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