Impact of U.S. Chickenpox Vaccination Program

A Public Health Success Story

Key points

  • The U.S. chickenpox (varicella) vaccination program has made a significant public health and economic impact since it started in 1995.
  • Chickenpox vaccines have reduced cases by 97%, proving to be an effective public health response.
  • The program has decreased chickenpox spread, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Children playing with a parachute.

Before the vaccine

In the early 1990s, more than 4 million people got chickenpox, hospitalizations reached 10,500 to 13,500, and 100 to 150 died. Half of those deaths were children.

Before the chickenpox vaccination program began, chickenpox used to be very common in the United States. Each year in the early 1990s, there were more than:

  • 4 million cases of chickenpox
  • 10,500 to 13,500 hospitalizations
  • 100 to 150 deaths

Most of the chickenpox cases and hospitalizations, and half the deaths were among children.


Banner with text: Chickenpox vaccine saves lives and prevents serious illness since '95.
Chickenpox vaccines have made a big public health and economic impact.

Public Health Impact

The United States became the first country to include the chickenpox vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunization schedule. Since the start of the program in 1995, chickenpox cases have declined overall by more than 97%.

Now, chickenpox is rare in the United States. Each year, there are fewer than:

  • 150,000 cases
  • 1,400 hospitalizations
  • 30 deaths

Economic Impact

The U.S. chickenpox vaccination program is an effective and cost-saving public health intervention. During the first 25 years, the program has prevented an estimated 91 million cases of chickenpox and saved $23.4 billion in healthcare costs.

25 years of the program‎

Summarizing the first 25 years of the vaccination program, CDC and its collaborators published 14 manuscripts in a special supplement in the Journal of Infectious Diseases—highlighting the success of this important vaccine.

List of downloadable resources