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In a first, UK advised to add chickenpox shot to child immunisation programme

The vaccine will be inoculated in two doses — at 12 and 18 months of age

By Web Desk
November 14, 2023
Representational image. — AFP
Representational image. — AFP

The British government should include the chickenpox vaccine in its routine childhood immunisation programme, the United Kingdon’s vaccine advisory body said on Tuesday, for the first time decades after the shots were made widely available in several other nations.

In case the British government accepts the recommendation, it will bring the nation in line with several other countries — including the United States and Germany — that routinely vaccinate children against the illness, Reuters reported.

The Department of Health will make the final decision.

The vaccine will be inoculated in two doses — at 12 and 18 months of age — Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said in a statement about its plans.

“For some babies, young children and even adults, chickenpox or its complications can be very serious, resulting in hospitalization and even death,” said Andrew Pollard, chair of the expert vaccine group in a statement.

US CDC says that chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash among other symptoms. The rash first appears on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body.

Complications from chickenpox can occur, but they are not common in healthy people who get the disease.

People who may get a serious case of chickenpox and may be at high risk for complications include:

  • Infants
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • People who are pregnant
  • People with bodies that have a lowered ability to fight germs and sickness (weakened immune systems) because of illness or medications, for example,
  • People with HIV/AIDS or cancer
  • Patients who have had transplants, and
  • People on chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, or long-term use of steroids.