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VERIFY: Chicken Pox Cases Are Very Rare But Still Possible With Vaccine

You ask; we VERIFY. The prevalence of chicken pox is very rare, ever since the vaccine came out, and public schools started requiring it for rising kindergartners.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — We are scratching the surface of yet another chicken pox inquiry -- a follow-up to last week's VERIFY.


Last week, we verified a post claiming Head and Shoulders Clean and Classic Shampoo can soothe chicken pox. A Cone Health physician, Dr. Zoe Stallings, explained zinc is an active ingredient in the shampoo, and zinc can heal wounds. Research has not proven the shampoo is an effective treatment for chicken pox, but Stallings said it makes sense, and she sees no harm in trying it. 

RELATED: VERIFY: This Shampoo Could Ease Chicken Pox Itchiness

After that story aired, viewer Alex Pawson Smith had a follow-up. She asked, "But how prevalent is chicken pox? The chicken pox vaccine is a requirement to attend public schools. People need to stop refusing vaccines, and doctors need to refuse patients who won't vaccinate."



Yes, it is true North Carolina public schools require the chicken pox vaccine called varicella. DHHS says rising kindergartners need two doses of the vaccine administered at least 28 days apart. Rising seventh graders need one dose, if they have not already had the now-required two doses. 

As far as the prevalence of chicken pox, it used to be very common. The CDC says in the early 1990s, four million people contracted varicella every year, and 100 to 150 people died from it every year. The highest rate of disease was in pre-school children. Then in 1995, the vaccine came out.

A CDC clinical trial found a single dose of the vaccine is 85% effective at preventing any form of chicken pox and almost 100% effective against severe cases. Two doses are 98% effective at preventing any form of chicken pox and 100% effective against severe cases.

How long does the vaccine last? Studies suggest at least 10 to 20 years, and most vaccinated children who developed chicken pox eight years after being vaccinated had only mild cases of the disease.


Chicken pox is very rare among adults and children who have received the vaccine, especially two does of it. The vaccine is a requirement in North Carolina public schools.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, screen shot or selfie video to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus