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Early years

13th Jul 2023

Chickenpox vaccine set to be added to childhood routine jabs

Ellen Fitzpatrick

The chickenpox vaccine is set to be added to the childhood immunisation programme after being declared safe and effective.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) made the recommendation today after they were asked to carry out an assessment by the Department of Health.

There are an estimated 58,000 cases of chickenpox every year in Ireland, with one in every 250 cases needing hospitalisation.

Hoping to reduce this, the vaccine rollout could cost the state up to €28m a year.

The report is now set to be sent to the Department of Health and it will be down to the National Immunisation Advisory Committee to examine issues.

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, it will then make a recommendation to the Chief Medical Officer.

The HIQA’s assessment has found that the vaccine is both safe and effective in preventing chickenpox and its complications.

They have also said that adding the vaccine to the childhood immunisation programme is likely to be cost-effective.

While the illness is common and symptoms only appear for a short time, one in three people who have had chickenpox will develop shingles later in life, the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) said.

According to, Dr. Conor Teljeur, HIQA’s Chief Scientist, said: “One dose of the vaccine will reduce severe disease including hospitalisations and overall occurrences. Two doses have the potential to further reduce the number of cases and eliminate chickenpox.”

“We found that vaccination against chickenpox is likely to represent a good use of healthcare resources. When societal costs, such as leave from paid work to care for sick children, are considered, we found that vaccination would be cost-saving.”

“Adding the vaccine to the childhood immunisation schedule would cost between €13m and €28m over the first five years, depending on whether one or two doses are given.”