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Duration of immunity

(15 Posts)
SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 08:56:13

I've tried to find the answer to this and google is letting me down so can someone who understands the science behind this help:

Point 1 (mentioned in arguments against vaccinating babies for various things like chickenpox and rubella): getting the illness gives lifelong immunity but vaccination doesn't.
Point 2: the NHS say that one of the reasons that the varicella vaccine isn't given to children is because having the chickenpox illness circulating wild in the population "tops up" the immunity of adults who have had it therefore reduces the likelihood that they will get shingles.

Those two things seem contradictory. If you get lifelong immunity from having an illness why would that immunity need topping up? I know shingles is slightly different to chickenpox but my understanding is that the antibodies are the same?

And an immune reaction is an immune reaction, surely? The body doesn't know it's a vaccine not the real deal. So how can getting the disease ensure lifelong immunity if the vaccine doesn't?

SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 22:09:22

Hopeful bump

SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 22:10:46

My self interest isn't goady, if anyone was wondering. I'm trying to develop a vaccination booster strategy for DD and also for me. And it's hard to find the right info.

karbonfootprint Mon 29-Jun-15 22:12:03

Once you have had chicken pox, the virus never leaves. It lives in your neck for the rest of your life, and can reoccur an indefinite number of times as shingles.

Chickenpox doesn't give you any immunity to shingles, chickenpox is shingles.

Artistic Mon 29-Jun-15 22:17:52

Chickenpox can recur - firstly as chickenpox (diff strain) and later as shingles. Get the vaccine & save yourself the trouble of suffering it.

Lifelong immunity is a myth invade of chickenpox. The disease can develop stronger/different strains and come back to attack you. Vaccines protect you painlessly while getting the disease makes it painful.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 22:23:19


The NHS website says "Adults who are naturally exposed to chickenpox (such as through contact with infected children) receive a natural boosting of their chickenpox antibodies which prevents the chickenpox virus (which remains dormant in the body after chickenpox infection) from reactivating in their bodies in the majority of cases and causing shingles."


lljkk Mon 29-Jun-15 22:23:24

The antibodies for shingles aren't exactly the same, that's why the shingles jab is different from CP jab.

I was talking to a virologist recently who explained that shingles is increasingly thought of as an autoimmune disorder whereas CP is just a virus.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 22:26:31

So how does vaccine duration apply to other vaccines? Does measles work the same way?

lljkk Mon 29-Jun-15 22:26:31

xpost... that NHS website is what I thought but the virologist said that theory is outdated & wrong. That exposure to fresh CP doesn't prevent shingles. If shingles was merely a fresh infection you'd get CP again rather than shingles.

Glad you found that link, though, makes me feel less ignorant in my confusion.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Mon 29-Jun-15 22:27:44

Ah! lljkk that might explain why some countries like the US have included it in their vaccine schedule?

prettybird Mon 29-Jun-15 22:43:49

We were never sure if ds had had chicken pox: a single spot (and maybe a 2nd one) at 6 months while I was still breast feeding (so even if he'd had it, had he fought it with my immunity or developed his own?).

He sailed through a number of outbreaks at the child minder and primary school without getting anything.

Then aged 14, the day before Good Friday and 2 days before he goes away for a week's skiing with the school, I see the spots he'd complained about a few days before (he'd said they were flea bites - I'd thought they were urticaria): oh shit, I think shock, took pictures to show my dad (retired doctor) who I was just going over to see. He confirmed my suspicion, so at 4.55 I ring the surgery to get an emergency appointment, which, thankfully, they give me.

Thankfully shingles isn't contagious as long as you don't touch the spots - which were on his back and had spread around to the front, so would be covered at all times.

Now we know for sure he's had chicken pox! wink

cngodltlbi Thu 02-Jul-15 03:29:57

I'm far from an expert, but to my knowledge, shingles is caused by the breakdown in cell-mediated immunity, whereas it is mainly humoural immunity that protect against primary chickenpox infection. The shingles vaccine is similar to the chickenpox one, but provides a larger dose of attenuated virus.

I don't think there's a consensus yet on natural boosting, so some countries have introduced the vaccine while others like the UK are being more cautious.

Out2pasture Thu 02-Jul-15 04:15:52

i've had cp two times in my life, not shingles. once as a small child, again as a teen (rare but it does happen). rubella...immunized as a child, prior to uni, and after 2 children...still a low titre...(sign i'm not immunized). the flu vaccine is only effective for 6 months sad
there is always new information coming out, but I was told the mmr immunization was less effective if given to children who are still in the process of breastfeeding.

Out2pasture Thu 02-Jul-15 04:17:50

oh some countries do adult immunizations as the childhood ones loose effect after 30+ years.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Thu 02-Jul-15 08:25:12

It's complicated isn't it. I suppose that makes sense, different diseases have evolved various different ways to attack our immune system so different immune responses have evolved in response. Very interesting about cell vs humoural immunity, I didn't know that.

And not everyone is the same, as you say Out not everyone has a strong immune reaction (DH is similar). Not as straightforward as "getting the disease gives lifelong immunity"!

I've also been told by the nurse while getting DD's vaccinations that routine pre-emptive calpol dosing when vaccines are given (ie before getting the jab) is also thought to reduce immune response in some people because it's anti-inflammatory.

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