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DH considering chickenpox vaccination programme

The Department of Health has ordered its immunisation advisers to begin the first stages of planning for a paediatric chickenpox vaccination programme.

Press reports last week said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had decided to start assessing evidence on whether vaccinating against chickenpox would be cost-effective, and if so in which age groups.

But Pulse has learned that the instruction came directly from senior levels of the department not the JCVI.

A source on a newly formed sub-group, which is set to have its first meeting imminently, told Pulse: ‘A chickenpox vaccine has been offered in the US for some time, and the department made the decision that we should look at it too.

‘It's certainly something that we should be investigating and asking questions about.'

The new group will also consider whether to introduce the varicella zoster vaccine as part of the childhood immunisation schedule – possibly in a quadrivalent combination with the MMR vaccine.

A department spokesperson said: ‘This work is at a very early stage. The JCVI considers a wide variety of issues around vaccination and immunisation.'

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