Chickenpox vaccination planned

Children could be vaccinated against chickenpox with a four-in-one injection under plans being considered by Government scientists.

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The researchers are investigating whether a vaccine should be combined with MMR to create a new multijab.

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But campaigners warn there is a danger of children becoming “over-vaccinated”.

The Government revealed yesterday that it had asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to investigate whether a mass roll-out is necessary.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The work is at a very early stage. The committee considers a wide variety of issues around vaccination and immunisation. Any recommendation to make a change to the programme is only put forward after a lengthy and thorough consideration of all the evidence.”

Chickenpox is a highly-contagious virus and more than nine in 10 children have had it by the age of 15. Its effects are usually mild in children although in rare cases it can cause death from toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia.

Children are recommended to have 13 jabs up to the age of 18 – 10 of them before age 2.

Jackie Fletcher of the anti-MMR campaign group JABS said adding chickenpox to the mix would be one too many. “The fear has to be that another jab would overload vulnerable children,” she said.

However, doctors and experts say multijabs are safe.

Two weeks ago the Health Protection Agency issued an unprecedented plea to parents to have the MMR jab after a sharp rise in the number of children catching measles.

Take-up of the controversial vaccine, which also protects against mumps and rubella, or German measles, slumped after one piece of research, since discredited, suggested a link with autism.

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Take-up of MMR is now on the rise again although it is not yet at recommended levels.

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