Chickenpox vaccine has saved multitudes

Anne Michaud’s column “When skepticism can lead to danger” [Opinion, Sept. 1] didn’t include the most important reason for giving children the chickenpox vaccine.

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People can become severely ill and die from infection with the chickenpox virus, or from bacterial infections that may follow a case of chickenpox. These outcomes occur mostly in very young children, transplant recipients and people with immune system defects, such as childhood leukemia.

In the United States, approximately 11,000 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 people died every year from chickenpox or its complications before the widespread use of the vaccine.

This vaccine has reduced deaths due to the chickenpox virus overall by 87 percent and by 99 percent in people younger than 20. Vaccines save lives.

Janet HearingSt. James

Editor’s note: The writer is an associate professor at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.