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News > Shortages
ACIP Recommends Prioritization for Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine Use 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday, February 20, 2002, voted to recommend prioritizing use of limited supplies of varicella vaccine because of a shortage in the United States.

  1. The ACIP recommended that, while the shortage persists, all vaccine providers in the United States should delay vaccination of children 12 - 18 months until 18 months or the two year visit.
  2. For children whose dose of varicella vaccine is delayed, vaccine providers should implement a call-back system when vaccine becomes available.

Prior to introduction of varicella vaccine in 1995, varicella was widespread in the United States, causing 4 million cases, 11,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths each year. In the first half of 2001, national coverage for varicella vaccine was 75 percent for children 19 - 35 months of age. Since implementation of the varicella program in the United States, data from Texas, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles indicates there has been a dramatic decline in varicella cases in all age groups and a decline in varicella hospitalizations.

Prior to the February 20, 2002 recommendations, ACIP recommended children should get one dose of varicella vaccine between 12 and 18 months of age, or at any age after 18 months if they have never had chickenpox or the vaccine. People not vaccinated until 13 years of age or older should get two doses four to eight weeks apart.

The duration of the shortage is uncertain, but shortage will likely last until late spring or early summer of 2002.

Related pages:
Questions and answers on 2002 varicella vaccine shortage

(Mar. 7, 2002)

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This page last modified on March 7, 2002
This page archived for historical purposes on January 30, 2007


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