Original Paper

European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 167, Issue 1, pp 47-55

Varicella vaccination in Europe: are we ready for a universal childhood programme?

  • Nitu SenguptaAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalCentre for Infectious Diseases, Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry Email author 
  • , Robert BooyAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalNational Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Westmead Children’s Hospital
  • , H. J. SchmittAffiliated withZentrum für Präventive Pädiatrie, Johannes Gutenberg Universität
  • , Heikki PeltolaAffiliated withHUCH Hospital for Children and Adolescents
  • , Pierre Van-DammeAffiliated withCentre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp
  • , R. Fabian SchumacherAffiliated withClinica Pediatrica, Universita’ degli Studi di Brescia
  • , Magda CampinsAffiliated withServicio de Medicina Preventiva y Epidemiología, Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • , Carlos RodrigoAffiliated withServicio de Pediatría, Hospital Universitario ‘Germans Trias I Pujol,’ Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • , Terho HeikkinenAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalDepartment of Pediatrics, Turku University Hospital
    • , Jane SewardAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalCenter for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (proposed)
    • , Aisha JumaanAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalCenter for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (proposed)
    • , Adam FinnAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalInstitute of Child Health, UBHT Education Centre
    • , Per OlcénAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalDepartment of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Örebro University Hospital
    • , Nancy ThiryAffiliated withCentre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp
    • , Catherine Weil-OlivierAffiliated withCentre for Child Health, Royal London HospitalHôspital Louis Mourier
    • , Judith BreuerAffiliated withCentre for Infectious Diseases, Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry Email author 

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Abstract

Safe and effective vaccines against varicella zoster virus (VZV), the aetiological agent of varicella and shingles, have been available in Europe for the last 5–10 years. The USA has had a universal childhood vaccination policy since 1995 and this has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the incidence, morbidity and mortality related to varicella. The economic and medical burden of VZV has led to discussions regarding both the desirability and feasability of a similar routine immunisation policy for all European children. This article examines the epidemiology of varicella in Europe and how the data emerging from the USA can be used to achieve adequate prevention of the disease. It looks into the current evidence of the health economic evaluation of universal varicella vaccination and explores the concerns surrounding such a policy, including the postulated impact on the incidence of zoster. In conclusion, the Society of Independent European Vaccination Experts (SIEVE) recommends that the immunisation of susceptible adolescents needs to be urgently implemented, in addition to the current recommendations targeting high-risk patients, their close contacts with a negative history of varicella and seronegative health-care workers. A universal policy, optimally incorporating a two-dose schedule, will be needed to finally reduce the burden of disease of varicella from a societal point of view. The SIEVE recommends the implementation of such a policy as soon as financially and practically possible.

Keywords

Varicella Vaccination Chickenpox Zoster Herpes zoster Shingles