Government scientists are considering a national campaign to vaccinate all babies against chickenpox – almost ten years after they last looked at the possibility.
Although many see teething as a transition ritual – and for most it is relatively harmless – for some it can lead to serious complications, including sepsis, pneumonia and brain damage.
Every year about 25 people die from chickenpox in England and Wales, one fifth of them children. The 25 deaths were “more than combined with measles, mumps, pertussis and Hib meningitis,” according to a 2001 analysis in the BMJ.
Sarah Westcott, 44, right, her youngest son Gabriel, now three, middle, had been immunized after her 14-year-old daughter Bridy, left, as a young girl suffered badly with chickenpox
Mrs. Westcott, left, said her daughter Bridy, right, “had inch-wide black blisters all over her body and almost ended up in the hospital. It is only thanks to my father, who is a general practitioner, that we were able to manage it at home ‘
pediatrician Dr. Andy Raffles, of the Portland Hospital in London, said that the damage that chickenpox can cause to a child should not be underestimated. “I would like to warmly welcome the introduction of routine chickenpox vaccination for children,” he said
Doctors with a special assignment now weigh up the pros and cons of setting up a vaccination campaign, in which more than 700,000 babies are vaccinated in the UK every year.
It is understood that a recommendation could be made to ministers within a year, although the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has not yet taken a decision.
Last night, pediatrician Dr. Andy Raffles of the Portland Hospital in London said that the damage that chickenpox can cause to a child should not be underestimated. “I would like to warmly welcome the introduction of routine chickenpox vaccination for children,” he said.
In his 30-year experience, he said he had “seen two otherwise healthy children die from chickenpox associated with chickenpox.”
He added: “Attitude towards chickenpox today is very similar to the attitude to measles in the 1970s and 1980s. But we should no longer call it a transitional ritual when it has the potential to cause harm, and we have the means to prevent it. youngest son Gabriel, now three, was immunized after her 14-year-old daughter Bridy suffered bad chickenpox as a young girl.
“Bridy went through a week of hell,” said Mrs. Westcott of Bexley, South East London. “She had black blisters all over her body and almost ended up in the hospital. It was only thanks to my father, who is a general practitioner, that we could manage it at home. “
Paying £ 120 for Gabriel to have a two-prick course was a “no-brainer,” she said.
However, the decision is not easy. Although a national campaign is likely to eradicate chickenpox, widespread vaccination can have harmful effects on the health of the elderly. This is because the chicken pox “varicella” virus also causes shingles in adults. It occurs when our immunity diminishes and the sleeping virus breaks out, resulting in a nasty rash that the victim can leave with paralyzing long-term pain.
It is thought that it is periodically exposed to active chickenpox, because people are like parents and grandparents, helping to increase the immunity of adults, thus keeping shingles at bay.
When the JCVI looked at this problem in 2010, it concluded that vaccination of children could therefore lead to higher shingles in the elderly. That, in turn, has resulted in a poor price-quality ratio because treating shingles is expensive.
But new evidence has emerged suggesting that vaccinating children may not raise the rates of shingles.
Countries that have launched such programs, including the US and Australia, have not seen shingles rates rise more than countries that have not, such as the UK.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chairman of the JCVI, said the committee looked at findings from such countries. He said: “The vaccine works extremely well in preventing chickenpox and if it is good value and cost effective for the NHS, then it is something that we recommend. But if it is not cost effective, it does not meet the criteria of the NHS. “