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Health Insight August 2002: Chickenpox vaccine launched

  The first vaccine against chickenpox has been launched in the UK. The vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, could provide an answer to concerns over the risks chickenpox (varicella) poses to adults. Each year about twenty adults die from varicella, which is a highly infectious viral disease. It can also cause miscarriage or birth defects in the unborn child. The rise in adult cases of chickenpox has led to calls for healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Hospital staff who come into contact with the virus are not allowed to work with certain patients, putting pressure on the NHS. The Department of Health says it will be considering how the vaccine can be most effectively used in the NHS ‘in due course’.

The Committee on Safety of Medicines advised that Urabe mumps vaccine is associated with an unacceptable risk of aseptic meningitis. The Medicines Control Agency consequently contacted importers notifying them that the vaccine was not to be imported.

Source: BBC Online, Scottish Health News, Press release (DoH)

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