Chicken pox vaccine associated with shingles epidemic

New research published in the International Journal of Toxicology (IJT) by Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D., reveals high rates of shingles (herpes zoster) in Americans since the government's 1995 recommendation that all children receive chicken pox vaccine.

Goldman's research supports that shingles, which results in three times as many deaths and five times the number of hospitalizations as chicken pox, is suppressed naturally by occasional contact with chicken pox.

Dr. Goldman's findings have corroborated other independent researchers who estimate that if chickenpox were to be nearly eradicated by vaccination, the higher number of shingles cases could continue in the U.S. for up to 50 years; and that while death rates from chickenpox are already very low, any deaths prevented by vaccination will be offset by deaths from increasing shingles disease. Another recent peer-reviewed article authored by Dr. Goldman and published in Vaccine presents a cost-benefit analysis of the universal chicken pox (varicella) vaccination program. Goldman points out that during a 50-year time span, there would be an estimated additional 14.6 million (42%) shingles cases among adults aged less than 50 years, presenting society with a substantial additional medical cost burden of $4.1 billion. This translates into $80 million annually, utilizing an estimated mean healthcare provider cost of $280 per shingles case.

After a child has had varicella (chickenpox), the virus becomes dormant and can reactivate later in adulthood in a closely related disease called shingles--both caused by the same varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It has long been known that adults receive natural boosting from contact with children infected with chicken pox that helps prevent the reactivation of shingles.

Based on Dr. Goldman's earlier communications with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Goldman maintains that epidemiologists from the CDC are hoping "any possible shingles epidemic associated with the chickenpox vaccine can be offset by treating adults with a 'shingles' vaccine." This intervention would substitute for the boosting adults previously received naturally, especially during seasonal outbreaks of the formerly common childhood disease.

"Using a shingles vaccine to control shingles epidemics in adults would likely fail because adult vaccination programs have rarely proved successful," said Goldman. "There appears to be no way to avoid a mass epidemic of shingles lasting as long as several generations among adults."

Goldman's analysis in IJT indicates that effectiveness of the chickenpox vaccine itself is also dependent on natural boosting, so that as chickenpox declines, so does the effectiveness of the vaccine. "The principal reason that vaccinees in Japan maintained high levels of immunity 20 years following vaccination was that only 1 in 5 (or 20%) of Japanese children were vaccinated," he said. "So those vaccinated received immunologic boosting from contact with children with natural chickenpox. But the universal varicella vaccination program in the U.S. will nearly eradicate this natural boosting mechanism and will leave our population vulnerable to shingles epidemics."

For decades it was thought shingles increased with age as older individuals' immune systems declined. However, Goldman's new research shows this phenomenon seemed primarily due to the fact that older people received fewer natural boosts to immunity as their contacts with young children declined.

Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D. served for eight years as a Research Analyst with the Varicella Active Surveillance Project conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LACDHS). The project was funded by the CDC.

About Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D.: Currently serves as Founder and Editor-in- Chief of the peer-reviewed medical journal Medical Veritas. Has recently authored five manuscripts concerning varicella, herpes zoster, and capture-recapture published in the European journal called Vaccine.

Research published in the International Journal of Toxicology, 24(4):205-213, Universal Varicella Vaccination: Efficacy Trends and Effect on Herpes Zoster. Also, Vaccine, 23(25):3349-3355, Cost-benefit analysis of universal varicella vaccination in the U.S. taking into account the closely related herpes zoster epidemiology.


  1. Carrie Sinclair PharmD Carrie Sinclair PharmD United States says:

    As a pharmacist I have been seeing an increasing number of patients with the shingles. What concerns me the most is the young ages that I have been seeing with the shingles. At first I thought that maybe it was a mis-diagnosis but as I saw more and more children being treated for the shingles I started thinking that it might have something to do with the chicken-pox vaccines. I was glad to find this article because it has answered some of my questions.
    Carrie Sinclair

  2. Tiffany Tiffany United States says:

    My son had the Vaccine over a month ago, he never had chicken pox and now he has shingles, I took him to the doctor and nobody knew what it was, so today i took him to ER and they said its singles. I dont know what to do, they said its contagious, I got two other kids too. They need to stop giving kids this vaccine. My niece had shingles around the same age as my son years ago.

  3. My daughter 19 was given the shot for chicken pox -- she is now having a reaction to the shot -- How do I know how bad it is? -- softball size knot red whole arm is swollen --- been giving beydral and motrin -- not helping.

    • Karen Eliot Karen Eliot United States says:

      Please take her to the doctor. (Do not give tylenol.)
      It's very important that anyone suffering a vaccine reaction report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Currently only ~1% of those with such injuries report them, and until more people suffering such reactions do so, policies and vaccines will not be changed or made safer.

      Hope your daughter is better soon. This should really be seen by a doctor, and make sure the doctor reports it as well.

  4. Marcella Marcella United States says:

    My now 3 year old received the chicken pox vaccination at 12 months and was just diagnosed yesterday with shingles.  It is absolutely absurd for a 3 year old to have to deal with shingles.  From all the research I have been doing it seems it is widely known that children who get chicken pox under one year of age are more susceptible to shingles as why are we vaccinating children with a live form of the virus at 12 months (that's a bit close to the cutoff)?  I now have to deal with keeping my 3 year old away from my 9 month old so he does not give him chicken pox.  I definately think more research should be done and the chicken pox vaccine be only recommended and not mandatory for children to start school.  Our pediatrician commented yesterday that she has seen a lot more shingles cases in young children since the vaccine started.  I believe the vaccine is totally defeating it's purpose if our children now have to deal with shingles outbreaks at such a young age.  I will definately wait longer before my now 9 month old gets the vaccine; he will not be getting it at 12 months.  

  5. Liz Liz United States says:

    My child received her C.P.booster shot 5 weeks ago. This time she got a mild case of C.P. Two weeks later I got shingles. Why? My older children had full blown C.P. I had C.P. My immunity system is NOT compromised. I believe the vaccines are being made with a new strain of the C.P. family, which makes no sense to me at all. This very well could explain the children's developing shingles, andtheir reaction when exposed to traditional chicken pox, they have half an immunity so they react with shingles. A different strain is different.

  6. Francee Francee United States says:

    My daughter had one dose of the chicken pox vaccine when she was one or two.  She then developed a small case of the chicken pox from the vaccine.  At age 12 she had the shingles.  Nine months later, my 5 year old neighbor had the shingles.  She too had a small case of the chicken pox before she was one, before they gave her the vaccine.  Unlike my daughter, she had the second shot before entering public school.  I am concerned that this vaccine is casing shingles.  

  7. Craig Craig United States says:

    I was treated with fairly intense hostility from my 12 year old daughter's pediatrician office when I refused the cp booster.  I would like to show them this study but before I do does anybody know how to find out more about this study such as who is behind it and the details of it?  If she tries to dismiss it I want the facts to support it.  Thanks

    • Leigh McQuade Leigh McQuade United Kingdom says:

      There's  several items with the proof you need on the Internet.  I put in new strain of chicken pox and found a lot of information about the chicken pox vaccine causing shingles.

  8. AB AB United States says:

    I think people are misunderstanding this study. The point is not that the vaccine is causing shingles in children. The point is that adults who had chicken pox when they were children need to have periodic contact with the virus in order to prevent shingles. When children are vaccinated, there are fewer cases of chicken pox, and therefore less opportunity for adults to come into contact with the virus. Hence the epidemic.

    • Erwin Alber Erwin Alber New Zealand says:

      What you say would make some sense if it wasn't for the fact that even vaccinated children now get shingles, which appears to have been unheard of prior to chickenpox vaccination.

      The chickenpo vaccine is a live virus vaccine which means that the virus is now being injected into young children, which appears to have resulted in a shingles epidemic in both children as well as adults.

      We would have been far better off if the chickenpox vaccine had never been invented, because virtually everyone was naturally immune to the disease.

      "Our medical system is using our children for an experiment with an abusive and invasive technology. The foreign protein, viruses and DNA injected affect children's genetic make-up and wreak havoc in ways we can't even imagine. We can no longer remain complacent or trust that health authorities have our best interest at heart or know what they are doing. We can no longer entrust the health and future of our children to a system that has long ago abandoned its guiding principle of "First, do no harm". "

      Edda West
      VRAN: Vaccination Risk Awareness Network

  9. gb gb United States says:

    People contributing this feedback are linking chicken pox vaccine with shingles -- not from idle speculation -- but from real experience.  It is NOT to be downplayed!

    My own son had the vaccine and developed shingles a few months later on his eye.  We treated it for several years, and then he developed a gbm brain tumor as an 11 year old.  There are links between the chicken pox vaccine to the shingles virus and then to brain neoplasms in the scientific literature.  People should be careful what they expose their children to for the "greater good" at least until new vaccines have had a chance to be studied for impact.

  10. cin cin United States says:

    I ended up in the hospital for 3 days on the cardiac unit.  Shingles!

    Not until months later did I relate my shingles to my grand daughters vaccine.

    I do believe its the vaccine itself which must shed the virus for a certain amount of time.

    I live in PA and see that a booster is now mandated.  This is not fair.  I don't want to get it again.... It was the most painful experience of my life, it was the cause of me to have a heart cath and it was over 6 weeks before I could sleep or not be in pain.  I'm really fearful of getting it again and will try to stay away from young children.

    My daughter in law developed shingles in her hair, she was only 35 yrs old at the time.

    • ACE ACE United States says:

      You can not CATCH shingles, people. Shingles erupts when your immunity wanes and the virus reactivates within your own body. It didn't come from the vaccinated grandchild, it came from your very own nervous system where it's been sitting since you had chicken pox as a child. Had grandchild had chicken pox instead of the vaccine, you'd have been exposed to the virus again and your immunity would have been boosted. That is how the vaccine is causing the shingles epidemic. Not because adults are catching it from vaccinated kids (or else we'd have "caught" it from kids with chicken pox prior), it's because we no longer get an immunity boost from sick kids around us! That's what the article is all about!

  11. April Huffman April Huffman United States says:

    Not fair that because its mandatory that my son or other children in my son situation has to suffer with shingles!!! Yeah there a Shingles vaccine now to prevent the elderly, what about the children or people under age 60 who has shingles? I breaks my heart to see my son go through this he is to young. He has never had chickenpox but had chickenpox vaccine at year old not even month he had first out break of shingles!! Hope parents take precautions when get vaccinated and know facts and ask questions because I had know clue my baby would gotten shingles from chickenpox vaccine!!!

  12. Monica D. Monica D. United States says:

    My children were in one of the earlier age groups to recieve the vaccine.  They are 18 and 20 now.  I had them vaccinated and asked if I should also get the vaccine as I had never had the Chicken Pox.  The Dr. said it was unlikely that I had not had it and they would need to do a titer prior to vaccinating me.  About 10 days to 2 weeks later I came down with full blown Chicken Pox at 34 years of age.  It was my birthday and Thanksgiving the day I broke out.  Because everyone else in the family had already had Chicken Pox I stayed for dinner after my ER visit. Later that night I got much sicker with fever and many more sores- it was quite uncomfortable. Less then 2 weeks later my 54 year old mother developed Shingles.  Later I told the Dr. that I thought they were all related- the kids being vaccinated- me getting the chicken pox and my mother getting shingles.  I was told "absolutely not" "just coincidental."  I never believed that.
    Now I am a nurse and recently relayed this story to a pediatrician I work with and he was quite condicending telling me that I may naturally assume some association because of the timing but that again "it is just coincidental."  I will never believe that is the case.  I know what happened and the timeline.  No conincidence!  I too worry about the shedding of viurses now from all the vaccines being pushed.

  13. Sherri G Sherri G United States says:

    My daughter had full blown chicken pox at 9 months old (she is 13) and then got Shingle outbreaks 5 times b/t the age of 2 and 7....I think the pharmaceutical companies put out these vaccinations Knowing these side effects and its all about the bottom dollar. ....without concern for the kids affected.

  14. Angela Coral Eisenhauer Angela Coral Eisenhauer Australia says:

    Well apparently cp vaccines are mandatory in OZ now, so parents in three schools, raced their kids for the vaccine, now three schools have chicken pox epidemics,  yes the vaccine, sheds cp.  Measles now sheds measles, and the new strain, actually circulates mostly amongst the vaccinate.  Pertuss vaccine, now has created petussis carriers, no symptoms, they just spread it.  The length of time the vaccines work, before the kids still get the diseases?  Mumps   2 years,  Perussis vaccines, average 4 years (100% failure by 10 years).    Yes fully vaccinated and worst of all, newly vaccinated for pertussis, are more likely to be carriers, no illness themselves.   The recommendation? Absolutely no scientific basis?  RE vaccinate pregnant mothers, and siblings of the child, causes 1,000 % increase in miscarriages, and they are more likely to be carriers, infecting their own baby,   thus the sudden rise in infant deaths, in even 100% fully vaccinated herds.........

  15. Angela Coral Eisenhauer Angela Coral Eisenhauer Australia says:

    Also, chicken pox vaccine was not used in Australia.... I have never, ever heard of a case of shingles, where I live, never. Now they are vaccinating, lets wait for the outbreaks of shingles!

  16. Douglas J E Barnes Douglas J E Barnes Canada says:

    Noted anti-vax crank Gary Goldman at work again.

  17. Carol Walters Carol Walters United States says:

    Another case of "more" is not better. If you let them go, they will try to come up with a vaccine to stop the sunshine. Sheesh!

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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