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Chickenpox: How vaccination protects your child from the highly contagious disease
Chickenpox is highly contagious and is one of the most common teething problems. Health experts provide information about the infectious disease that affects almost every child. In this context, they point out to protect the offspring through effective vaccinations.
One of the most common teething problems
Chickenpox is one of the most common teething problems. Adults also fall ill, but the majority of patients are children. The infectious disease is triggered by the highly contagious varicella zoster virus (VZV). The cause of the disease itself cannot be treated, only the symptoms can be alleviated by medication or home remedies. According to health experts and specialist organizations such as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), “Vaccination as an active immunization” is the “best prevention of varicella infection”. The Child Health Foundation now also points to the protection provided by vaccination.
Number of diseases due to vaccinations decreased
As the Foundation for Child Health reports in a recent communication, vaccination against chickenpox has been one of the vaccinations recommended by the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) for 15 years.
Previously, she was only advised for special risk groups, for example for children with a damaged immune system.
In 2004 the STIKO decided: In future, all children should receive the vaccination, ideally together with the vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella between the ages of 11 and 14 and between 15 and 23 months.
According to the Child Health Foundation, the decision proved to be highly useful for the generation of children born since then, since the number of chickenpox diseases has declined significantly in Germany.
Protect children from serious contagious diseases
"Vaccinations are one of the greatest successes of medicine in our time," said pediatrician Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko, Chairman of the Child Health Foundation.
“It is thanks to vaccinations that many of the horrors of early childhood have become so rare. Modern vaccines are well tolerated and protect children from serious contagious diseases, ”said the expert.
"Vaccination against chickenpox offers a current example of the success of a sustainable vaccination strategy."
Viruses easily cover distances of ten meters
As the foundation writes, chickenpox (technically: varicella) bears its name quite rightly: its pathogen, the "Varicella zoster virus" (VZV) really blows everywhere with the wind.
The viruses not only fly through open doors, but effortlessly overcome distances of ten meters in the ascent of stairwells and even on house walls.
Therefore, it can hardly be prevented that the unvaccinated siblings of a sick person or unvaccinated children in the neighborhood or in the daycare.
Most typical symptom of the disease
The disease usually begins eleven to 21 days after infection with a mild fever and fatigue.
The most typical symptom of the infectious disease is a red, itchy rash with small nodules on the skin.
According to the foundation, you can almost watch the rash develop: First, small, pale red spots appear and then turn into thin-walled, matchstick-sized bubbles. They burst even with slight pressure.
The rash develops in batches: the individual stages of development - spots, blisters and dried crusts - follow each other closely. This creates the impression of a real "star map" with different sized "stars".
Some children have more than 500 itchy blisters (sometimes even in the mouth or vagina), the average number of blisters is 350.
Severe illnesses possible
Children are most contagious one to two days before the blisters appear and six to seven days after the onset of the disease.
The risk of infection then diminishes, but will only go away with certainty when the last crusts have fallen off.
Despite the rash, some children do not feel sick at all and only have a slightly elevated body temperature. Others, on the other hand, make a very sick impression. The disease is often severe in children suffering from eczema.
Studies of the frequency of complications have shown that about 16 percent of the patients developed a severe course of the disease and the complication rate was 5.7 percent.
These were mainly so-called bacterial super infections: the children scratch the itchy blisters with dirty fingernails and there is additional inflammation caused by bacteria.
Pneumonia is a relatively common complication, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) a rather rare complication.
“Side effects” that affect the whole family
According to the Child Health Foundation, the “side effects” of the disease, which can be a heavy burden not only on the affected child, but on the whole family, should not be underestimated.
The child has been "pulled out of circulation" for a week by the chickenpox. It may not go to kindergarten or to school. Vacation trips or excursions have to be canceled and the invitation to the children's birthday party can also be written in the wind.
Because grandparents cannot take care of the sick child everywhere, a parent must stay at home during this time. Some single mothers, working mothers are faced with an almost impossible situation due to chickenpox.
Childhood is the safest period of life
The recommended vaccination has not only reduced the number of diseases, but there has also been less infection with chickenpox in infants who have not yet been vaccinated and in adults.
Because when many people are vaccinated, fewer and fewer pathogens are in circulation. A so-called herd immunity develops and children and adults who are not vaccinated also benefit from this, reports the Child Health Foundation.
"Our children owe a large part of the fact that childhood is the least dangerous period of life to vaccinations," said Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko.
“The Children's Health Foundation therefore believes with conviction that parents should use every opportunity to prevent diseases that can also threaten their child through effective vaccinations. Chickenpox is one of them ”. (ad)