Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), Public Health Scotland (PHS) will work with Scottish Government and colleagues across NHS Boards to make plans for the introduction of a varicella (chickenpox) vaccination as part of the routine childhood schedule.
JCVI’s recommendation is to offer a two-dose programme offering vaccination at 12 and 18 months of age, using the combined MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) vaccine.
Varicella vaccines have been seen to dramatically decrease the number of cases of chickenpox seen in childhood when used in other countries.
Dr Claire Cameron, Consultant in Health Protection at PHS said:
"Chickenpox is a highly contagious infectious disease. While most cases of chickenpox in children are relatively mild, many children are unwell for several days and have to miss school or nursery as a result. In some cases, chickenpox can be more severe and can lead to hospitalisations from serious secondary infections or other complications.
"The offer of the varicella vaccine is a welcome new addition to the routine childhood schedule and, as well as reducing the number of cases, will prevent more severe cases of chickenpox."
Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said:
"The Scottish Government welcomes the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s recommendation to introduce a chickenpox vaccine to the childhood immunisation programme.
"Immunisation is one of the most effective ways of preventing illness from infectious disease.
"We will work with Public Health Scotland, NHS Boards in Scotland, as well as colleagues across the UK, to consider this recommendation in more detail."
More information on the current childhood immunisation schedule is available on NHS Inform.