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expert reaction to JCVI recommendation to add the chickenpox vaccine to childhood immunisation programme

Scientists react to JCVI’s recommendation to include the chickenpox vaccine in child immunisation programmes. 


Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said:

“Whilst in most cases chickenpox is an annoying but usually fairly harmless infection in children, we must not overlook the really severe cases that can be caused not only by the chickenpox virus but also by superinfections, and we have certainly seen many -even fatal- cases in our paediatric intensive care units. I have personally looked after these kids for many years.

“It is therefore absolutely timely that the UK JCVI has finally recommended a safe and effective vaccine that has already been in use in many countries for years.”


Prof Helen Bedford, Professor of Children’s Health, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (GOS ICH), University College London (UCL), said

“The addition of a vaccine to the UK vaccination schedule to protect children against chickenpox will be welcomed by many parents. Although chicken pox is usually a mild infection, children have an itchy rash and often a fever which makes them feel very miserable.  Chicken pox infection can also result in serious complications such as nasty bacterial skin infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. Providing our children with this additional vaccine would be a welcome addition to the highly successful UK vaccination programme. ”


Dr Michael Absoud, Adjunct Reader, Department of Women & Children’s Health, King’s College London, said:

“This is very good news for child health in the UK, and based on an extensive evidence review from the JCVI. The programme will prevent severe cases of chicken pox and associated rare but significant complications. The JCVI reviewed data on disease burden, real world experience and health economic modelling to ensure cost-effectiveness of the programme.” 


* Press release from UKHSA

Childhood varicella vaccination programme: JCVI advice, 14 November 2023 – Independent Report, published 14th November 2023



Declared interests

Prof Helen Bedford: I have conducted unfunded research into parents’ and health care professionals’ attitudes towards chicken pox vaccine  

Dr Michael Absoud: No conflicts of interest


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