Live attenuated varicella vaccine has been administered to 307 children with leukemia in remission and to 86 healthy adults. The vaccine was well tolerated and immunogenic. The major side effect in leukemic children receiving maintenance chemotherapy was development of a vaccine-associated rash. Vaccinees in whom a rash developed were potentially somewhat infectious to others about 1 month after immunization. Vaccination was not associated with an increase in the incidence of herpes zoster or in relapse of leukemia. Vaccination provided excellent protection against severe varicella. It was associated with a significant decrease in the attack rate of chickenpox following an intimate exposure to varicella-zoster virus, conferring about 80% protection in leukemic children. The cases of breakthrough varicella that occurred were mild. Thus, the vaccine may either prevent or modify varicella in high-risk individuals. It may also have use for prevention of nosocomial varicella.
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Live attenuated varicella vaccine use in immunocompromised children and adults.