Live attenuated varicella vaccine: Protection in healthy adults compared with leukemic children

Anne A. Gershon, Sharon R. Steinberg, Gerald Ahronheim, Warren Andiman, Ann Arvin, Arthur E. Brown, Robert Castleberry, Stephen Chartrand, Blaise Congeni, Penelope Dennehy, Nancy Dunn, Harold Maurer, Philip LaRussa, James Garvin, Howard Faden, Lawrence Gelb, Vita Land, Margaret Hammerschlag, John Hutter, Joseph KochenBarbara Law, Martha Lepow, Brigid Leventhal, Myron Levin, Melvin Marks, Philip Rettig, Helen Mauer, James Stockman, Abdel Ragab, Avron Ross, Stephen Sallan, Peggy Sartain, Narayan Shah, Harris Stutman, John Truman, Haysam Tufenkeji, Joyce Wallenberg, Michael Weiner, Tribhawan Vats, John Zaia, Leonard Weiner, Seymour Zoger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Protection against varicella infection was assessed in leukemic children and healthy young adults who were immunized with live attenuated varicella vaccine. Attack rates of breakthrough infection following household exposure to varicella in 102 children and 26 adults were similar whether one or two doses of vaccine had been given. The mild breakthrough illness wasalso similar after one or more doses. Specific antibody titers were similar 1 year after immunization whether individuals had received one or two doses. Humoral and cell-mediated immunity to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) was lower in these vaccinees than in persons who had experienced natural varicella infection. Protection after natural infection in adult family members exposed to varicella was superior to that in vaccinees; none developed varicella infection. These observations suggest that immunization induces less protection than does natural disease in leukemic children and young adults. This may be partly due to the nature of the vaccine virus, but because responses ofadults were similar to those of leukemic children, it suggests also that both of these groups have impaired immune responses to VZV. Boosting of humoral immunity after exposure to VZV was common and was observed in healthy adults with past natural infection and in vaccinated adults and leukemic children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-666
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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