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February 26, 2014

From JAMA’s Daily News Site

JAMA. 2014;311(8):788. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.810

Shingles cases have been on the rise among older US adults, but the increase apparently isn’t linked with the 1996 introduction of chickenpox vaccination among children.

Some had speculated that if fewer children contracted chickenpox, adults who were infected as children wouldn’t get as big of a natural immune system boost. The result could be virus reactivation, causing painful shingles lesions. Health records from nearly 3 million Medicare beneficiaries showed that the rate of herpes zoster increased by 39% over the past 2 decades, but the increase began before the implementation of childhood varicella vaccination. Reasons for the shingles increase remain a mystery.