Everything You Need to Know About the Chickenpox Vaccine

baby arm after jabs

This November 2023, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that a vaccine against chickenpox should be routinely offered to all children in the UK.

The government will now decide whether to add it to the routine protective jabs.

Why Don’t Children Get the Chickenpox Vaccine in the UK?

As stands, the vaccine has only be available to those who wish to pay around £200 for it, and the NHS has raised concerns that vaccinating all children could lead to an increase in adult cases of chicken pox, which can be more severe. 

If the introduction of the vaccine was to be approved, the UK would join many other countries offering routine varicella vaccination, including Germany, Canada, Australia and the United States, where vaccination has been in place since 1995. These countries that do offer the vaccine have all seen a drop in the number of severe chickenpox cases requiring hospitalisation. 

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Chair of the JCVI, said: “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.”

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Who Would be Eligible for the Vaccine?

Under the proposals suggested, children would be offer the first dose of the chickenpox vaccine at 12 months old and the second dose at 18 months old. There could also be an initial catch-up period where older children are vaccinated just after it is introduced to ensure they have immunity. 

The first dose is usually given  to children at the same time as the MMR vaccine (around 12 months of age) in the countries already doing this vaccination, so its likely the same would be done here in the UK.

What Will Happen With the Chickenpox Vaccine?

With the new recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the decision will now sit with the Department of Health and Social Care. There is a good chance that the chicken pox vaccine will now be introduced to the UK’s routine vaccinations as a result of this advice.

What Is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus and most common in children under 10.

Children usually catch chickenpox in winter and spring. Cases of chickenpox are usually mild in children, and natural immunity is often created after catching it.

Symptoms include a rash of red, itchy spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. These then crust over to form scabs, which eventually drop off.

Head here for more on how to keep your baby calm after their vaccinations.

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