Chickenpox: infants between 12 and 18 months should be given vaccine, NHS told by JCVI committee
All children should be given chickenpox vaccine, says the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that infants aged 12 months to 18 months are given the chickenpox vaccine in two doses.
The NHS has been recommended the move after data from other countries showed that administering the varicella vaccine in two doses has a major impact on the circulation of the common childhood illness. In some cases it even prevented the most severe cases in children.
Included in the recommendations, the JCVI also said that older children may take part in a temporary catch-up programme. The chickenpox vaccine has never been used in the UK by the NHS over fears that it could lead to an increase in chickenpox and shingles in adults. The Department of Health and Social Care will now consider the recommendations.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chairman of the JCVI, said: “Chickenpox is well known, and most parents will probably consider it a common and mild illness among children. But for some babies, young children and even adults, chickenpox or its complications can be very serious, resulting in hospitalisation and even death.
“Adding the varicella vaccine to the childhood immunisation programme will dramatically reduce the number of chickenpox cases in the community, leading to far fewer of those tragic, more serious cases. We now have decades of evidence from the US and other countries showing that introducing this programme is safe, effective and will have a really positive impact on the health of young children.”