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Varicella vaccine campaign ruled out

The Government's public health advisers have ruled out the possibility of introducing the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine into the childhood immunisation schedule as it is unlikely to be cost-effective and may increase overall morbidity.

The Health Protection Agency said adolescent vaccination was the safest and most cost-effective strategy but had the least impact on varicella.

Dr John Edmunds, a health economist at the HPA, designed a model to predict the likely impact of the varicella vaccine on morbidity as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation was considering how best to use the vaccine.

The model, which appeared in Archives of Disease in Childhood (October), showed mass infant vaccination would significantly reduce the burden of varicella but the benefits would be offset by a significant rise in zoster morbidity.

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