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Mass chickenpox vaccinations mulled

The government has confirmed it is investigating whether children should be vaccinated against chickenpox.

The Department of Health has appointed advisers to look at whether a universal programme of chickenpox vaccines is necessary.

A group of scientists has been tasked with examining the case for the move, on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The JCVI requested that we set up a sub-group to look into the issues of vaccinating against chicken pox.

"This work is at a very early stage. The JCVI 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 vaccination is a regular occurrence in the US, but experts have previously said more work needs to be done to examine if such a drive is beneficial.

There is also concern among some health professionals that mass vaccinations against the disease could cause millions of cases of shingles in adults.

A vaccine against chickenpox was licensed in the UK in 2002, but it has never been part of routine childhood vaccinations and is not currently recommended for standard use.

Department of Health

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