Babies should be offered a chickenpox vaccine, Government advisors ruled today.
Under a massive proposed shake-up of the NHS childhood immunisation calendar, children would routinely be offered two doses when they are 12 and 18 months.
Health experts have also recommended ministers embark on a ‘catch-up’ campaign for up to 7million toddlers and older kids.
Department of Health bosses will now consider the recommendations — which health chiefs hope will make chickenpox ‘a problem of the past’ — before a final decision is made.
As of now, parents wanting their child to be vaccinated against chickenpox have to pay up to £150 privately. Some throw ‘parties’ so their kids get infected and build-up some immunity.
Every year, around 20 people die due to chickenpox in the UK. Hundreds of babies are hospitalised due to severe symptoms.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the Government, says it would lead to ‘far fewer’ serious cases.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the JCVI, said: ‘Chickenpox is well known, and most parents will probably consider it a common and mild illness among children.
‘But for some babies, young children and even adults, chickenpox or its complications can be very serious, resulting in hospitalisation and even death.
‘Adding the varicella vaccine to the childhood immunisation programme will dramatically reduce the number of chickenpox cases in the community, leading to far fewer of those tragic, more serious cases.