Varicella in Europe-A review of the epidemiology and experience with vaccination.
Vaccine. 2015 May 15 ;33(21):2406-13. Epub 2015 Apr 1. PMID: 25839105
Ida Glode Helmuth
There is no consensus as regards the European varicella immunisation policy; some countries have introduced varicella vaccination in their routine childhood immunisation programs whereas others have decided against or are debating. With the aim of providing an overview of the epidemiology of varicella in Europe and addressing the different strategies and the experiences so far, we performed a review of epidemiological studies done in Europe from 2004 to 2014. Varicella is mainly a disease of childhood, but sero-epidemiological studies show regional differences in the proportion of susceptible adults. Hospitalisation due to varicella is not common, but complications and hospitalisation mainly affect previously healthy children, which underlines the importance of not dismissing varicella as a disease of little importance. The experience with universal vaccination in Europe shows that vaccination leads to a rapid reduction of disease incidence. Vaccine effectiveness is high and a protective herd effect is obtained. Experience with vaccination in Europe has not been long enough, though, to draw conclusions on benefits and drawbacks with vaccination as well as the capacity for national programs in Europe to maintain a sufficiently high coverage to prevent a change in age group distribution to older children and young adults or on the impact that varicella immunisation may have on the epidemiology of shingles.