Background: The attenuated live varicella vaccine had been shown to be effective in preventing varicella and reducing the disease burden in the United States. However, little work has been done on investigating vaccine effectiveness in China where 3 varicella vaccines are available. Although the vaccines contain the same strain of virus, the vaccines licensed in China were from manufacturers different from the one licensed in the United States. We conducted a matched case–control study to assess the effectiveness of the 3 varicella vaccines in use in China.
Methods: In 2005, we enrolled 1000 cases from Guangzhou, China and 1000 controls matched by age and place of residence. The cases were children clinically diagnosed with acute onset of a diffuse maculopapulovesicular rash without other apparent cause. We interviewed the legal guardians of the participants for demographic information and disease history after obtaining informed consent. We collected information on vaccination status from electronic vaccination records.
Results: The 3 varicella vaccines in China (Varilrix from GlaxoSmithKline, Changchun and Shanghai from Changchun and Shanghai Institutes of Biologic Products, respectively) had similar effectiveness: Varilrix 86.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 72.6, 93.2), Changchun 79.5% (95% CI: 58.1, 90.0), and Shanghai 92.6% (95% CI: 68.9, 98.2). Vaccine effectiveness was higher during the first year after vaccination than during the subsequent 5 years, but the differences did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusions: The varicella vaccines in China are highly effective in preventing clinical varicella. Further studies on laboratory-confirmed cases are needed to verify the change of vaccine-induced immunity over time.