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BACKGROUND: Varicella is a highly infectious disease, particularly affecting children, that can lead to complications requiring antibiotics or hospitalization. Antibiotic use for varicella management is poorly documented. This study assessed antibiotic use for varicella and its complications in a pediatric population in England. METHODS: Data were drawn from medical records in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink and Hospital Episode Statistics datasets. Patients <18 years old diagnosed with varicella during 2014-2018 with 3-month follow-up available were included. We described varicella-related complications, medication use, healthcare resource utilization, and costs from diagnosis until 3-month post-diagnosis. RESULTS: We identified 114,578 children with a primary varicella diagnosis. 7.7% (n = 8,814) had a varicella-related complication, the most common being ear, nose, and throat related (37.1%, n = 3,271). In all, 25.9% (n = 29,706/114,578) were prescribed antibiotics. A higher proportion of patients with complications than those without complications were prescribed antibiotics (64.3%, n = 5,668/8,814 vs. 22.7%, n = 24,038/105,764). Mean annualized varicella-related costs were £2,231,481 for the study cohort. Overall, antibiotic prescriptions cost ∼£262,007. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights high antibiotic use and healthcare resource utilization associated with varicella management, particularly in patients with complications. A national varicella vaccination program in England may reduce varicella burden and related complications, medication use, and costs.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect Dis

Publication Date



England, Real-world, antibiotics, complications, costs, healthcare resource utilization, immunization, pediatric, varicella