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Evidence grows for chickenpox and rotavirus vaccines

By Lilian Anekwe

Evidence appears to be building for the introduction of vaccines against the varicella zoster and rotavirus viruses, which are both being assessed by ministers.

The JCVI is assessing evidence on whether vaccinating against chickenpox and rotavirus would be cost-effective, and if so in which age groups.

New evidence from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US – where the RotaTeq vaccine has been licensed and available for use since February 2006 – shows 18% of stool samples were positive for rotavirus in the winter season between November 2007 and April 2008, compared with a median of 41% from July 1991 to June 2006.

A second analysis showed a reduction in hospitalisation and emergency admissions for rotavirus gastroenteritis; 18 children were admitted in the US, Canada and Mexico during 2008 compared with 207 in 2006 and 259 in 2007.

Dr Keith Lindley, consultant in paediatric gastroenterology at Great Ormond's Street hospital, said: ‘I think the CDC data is important but it's only been a couple of seasons since it was introduced and we do need to know if it's a long term thing. But it is important and if it continues I'm sure there will be more pressure on the JCVI to introduce it.'

A systematic review also published this week backed a varicella vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis. Three studies involving 110 children found 13 out of 56 children (18%) given the vaccine developed chickenpox, compared with 42 out of 54 (78%) given either a placebo or no vaccine.

Dr Kristine Macartney, senior research fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research in Sydney, Australia, concluded the evidence ‘supported the consideration of the use of varicella vaccine in children.'

Chickenpox: evidence growing for vaccine Chickenpox: evidence growing for vaccine

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