Varicella vaccine can be added to the Irish pediatric immune program.

n An assessment is underway on whether the vaccine should be included in the program at the request of the Ministry of Health and whether it should be supported by the National Immunology Advisory Board (NIAC).

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has accepted this request and today released the latest Health Technology Assessment (HTA) protocol to add the varicella vaccine to the regular pediatric immune schedule.

The HTA assesses organizational changes associated with clinical efficacy, cost-effectiveness, budgetary impact, ethical and social aspects, and expansion of the pediatric immune schedule, including varicella vaccination.

The result of the evaluation will inform you of the decision by the Ministry of Health.

In many countries, such as Australia and Canada, the varicella vaccine is already given as part of a routine pediatric immune program.

This vaccine protects against the varicella-zoster virus. Varicella-zoster can cause two clinical syndromes: chickenpox as a result of a primary infection and shingles that develops later due to viral reactivation.

Chickenpox is a common infectious disease that primarily affects children. One case of chickenpox can infect 10 to 12 people.

Within the EU / EEA countries, the annual incidence of chickenpox is usually comparable to the birth cohort. The total number of births in Ireland is about 56,000 per year.

Regarding this assessment, Dr. Connartelle Jules, HIQA’s Chief Scientist, said: “The chickenpox vaccine was first developed almost 50 years ago.

“In the last three decades, more and more countries around the world have added varicella vaccines to their daily pediatric immune schedules.

“In Ireland, vaccines are currently recommended for non-immune individuals in certain risk groups.

“Our assessment examines the effects of adding the vaccine to the childhood immune schedule.”

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