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Give toddlers chickenpox jab, advisers tell NHS

All children in the UK should be given a chickenpox vaccine at 12 and 18 months of age, combined with the MMR jab as one shot, the NHS is advised.

It will now be up to the government to decide whether to add it to the routine immunisations children are offered.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has also recommended a temporary catch-up programme for slightly older children who've missed out on this initial rollout.

Chickenpox cases dipped during the Covid pandemic due to restrictions on socialising, meaning there is currently a larger pool of children than usual who are unprotected against the highly contagious virus.

Chickenpox can be more severe if you catch it for the first time as a teen or an adult rather than as a young child.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UK Health Security Agency said: "Introducing a vaccine against chickenpox would prevent most children getting what can be quite a nasty illness - and for those who would experience more severe symptoms, it could be a life saver.

"The JCVI's recommendations will help make chickenpox a problem of the past and bring the UK into line with a number of other countries that have well-established programmes."

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Source: BBC News, 14 November 2023


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