Chickenpox vaccine UK: Mum of girl left fighting for life after catching virus backs call for vaccination
The mum of a girl who spent three weeks in hospital and had to undergo a lifesaving four-hour operation after catching chickenpox backs calls for NHS vaccine
The mum of a girl left in a serious condition after catching chickenpox has spoken out in support of the proposed NHS vaccine against the virus. Reign Passey, now five, spent three weeks in hospital and had to undergo a lifesaving four-hour operation to remove the flesh-eating bacteria that left her with a large scar on her right side.
Leanne Passey, 32, said her daughter developed strep A which turned her chickenpox into a flesh-eating infection. Her warning comes after NHS advisers recommended all children in the UK be given a chickenpox vaccine at the age of 12 and 18 months.
The advice, issued by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), has also recommended a temporary catch-up programme for older children. It said data from countries suggests the vaccine - also known as the varicella jab - would dramatically reduce circulating chickenpox and prevent most severe cases in children.
Leanne from Dudley, West Midlands, said: "If the vaccine will prevent any child from getting what Reign got then I support it 1000 per cent. I wouldn’t want any mother to go through it. It’s horrendous - you never expect it to happen to you until it does."
She said Reign came down with chickenpox on July 4, 2022 and initially appeared fine. But three days later the mum noticed she had a temperature and was low on energy - symptoms of strep A - an infection which children who have had chickenpox recently are more likely to develop.
Leanne spotted a red ring around one of the sores on Reign's side and decided to take her daughter to a doctor who then recommended she visit A&E immediately. Leanne then decided to take Reign to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Leanne said: “I’d gone from a child with chickenpox to her needing to go in for major op - I was screaming and I thought there’s a chance she was going to die.” Upon their arrival, Reign was immediately brought to the operating room, where the surgeon immediately made a substantial cut on her side to remove infected tissue.
Reign was then taken to intensive care, put in an induced coma to manage the pain and given breathing support. Leanne said: "They had to leave her wound open because of how fast it spread."
She has since made a complete recovery and is "doing very well". However, there are some lingering effects that require ongoing medical attention, Leanne explained. She said: We're not sure how things will go in the future, and she will have to have scar treatment at some point. We're not there yet, but she is much better. Reign is here and that's all that matters. If this vaccine would potentially save lives then I fully support it."