The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended the addition of a chickenpox vaccine to the country’s routine immunisation programme for children.
The varicella vaccine is recommended to be administered in two doses to children aged 12 and 18 months in the UK.
The recommendations were submitted to the UK Department of Health and Social Care, which will make a final decision on the deployment of the chickenpox vaccination programme.
The committee also recommended a catch-up programme for older children as part of the programme’s deployment.
A catch-up drive would provide protection for older children against high infection risks later in childhood or in adulthood when the illness can become severe.
The UK will join countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and Australia that already offer the varicella vaccine under their routine immunisation programmes.
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JCVI chair professor Andrew Pollard stated: “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 USA and other countries showing that introducing this programme is safe, effective and will have a really positive impact on the health of young children.”