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Chickenpox jab support

8th November 2007

Researchers have warned that the only way to prevent severe illness and death from chickenpox is to vaccinate all children.

BabyVaccination1

Experts from Health Protection Scotland and the universities of London and Bristol looked at cases over a 13-month period and found that the complications varied widely. The most common included bacterial blood poisoning, pneumonia and encephalitis, and loss of muscle control.

Figures show that in that 13-month period in the UK and Irish Republic, there were six deaths and 112 cases of severe complications among children.

In findings published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, the research team concluded that the complications did not just happen in vulnerable children.

They recommended: “Universal vaccination would therefore be the only realistic option to prevent severe complications and deaths, as few, if any, could be identified as potentially preventable under the current UK policy.�

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus and is generally a mild infection with 90% of cases in children under the age of 15, though rare but dangerous complications can happen in a small number of healthy children or those with other chronic health problems.

For every 1,000 children who catch chickenpox, between two and five of them will end up in hospital.

One option for universal vaccination is adding the chickenpox jab to the existing MMR vaccine.

With a number of other countries routinely immunising their children against chickenpox, the Department of Health is already considering whether this would be the right move in this country.

 

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