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Mass vaccination for chickenpox

12th September 2007

A mass vaccination of children in England against chickenpox is being considered by the Department of Health.


A panel of experts will consider the various benefits of such a mass vaccination plan following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Combining the chickenpox vaccine with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab is understood to be one option under consideration to create a new four-in-one injection for children.

The chickenpox vaccine has been licensed in the UK since 2002 but is not a routine part of childhood injections, though it is routine in America.

But there is also some criticism of the plan on the grounds that children could become over-vaccinated.

At present children have 13 vaccinations right up to the age of 18, with 10 injections given for eight diseases before they reach the age of two. Other experts fear a chickenpox injection for children could trigger a rise in cases of shingles in adults.

Chickenpox is a highly-contagious virus and while the effects are usually mild in children it is more serious for adults and can sometimes be fatal with about 20 deaths a year.

A Department of Health spokesman confirmed the JCVI requested the setting up of a sub-group to look into the issues of vaccinating against chickenpox but stressed the work was still at a very early stage.

“Any recommendation to make a change to the programme is only put forward after a lengthy and thorough consideration of all the evidence,? he said.


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Article Information

Title: Mass vaccination for chickenpox
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 4039
Date Added: 12th Sep 2007


BBC News

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