Like 100 of their peers at Orchard Park Elementary in Ft. Mill, S.C., Emily Rivers, 9, and her sister, Olivia, 6, contracted chicken pox this year—despite getting immunized when they were a year old. The girls got sick because a single shot—the old recommendation—protects only 85 percent of kids. As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that kids get a second shot between the ages of 4 and 6.
Ironically, says Dr. Robert Frenck of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases, "the vaccine program has worked so well that people just don't see the benefits anymore." Many Americans no longer view the disease as a health threat. But chicken-pox outbreaks tend to start with unvaccinated kids, says the AAP's Dr. David Kimberlin.
Pam Rivers praises the vaccine for reducing the severity of her girls' outbreak. They got just a few dozen bug-bite-like "pocks." By contrast, her husband, 48, who'd never had the disease or the vaccine, had to be hospitalized last month.