15 Dec 2014

Pharmac considering chickenpox vaccine

5:19 pm on 15 December 2014

Pharmac is to consider introducing a chickenpox vaccine for every child in New Zealand early next year.

The vaccine is not currently on the National Immunisation Schedule, despite having been pushed for by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.

It has been freely available in 26 countries, including Australia, the United States and Canada, for years.

A senior Wellington paediatric surgeon, Brendon Bowkett, said to not follow suit here is both irresponsible and neglectful.

"All the green lights are there to do this, the misery of children which is horrific, and significant, particularly in New Zealand which has been ignored.

"The economic factors: if we have money to change a flag - $27 million - we've got money to introduce this vaccine, or at least make it available freely."

Dr Bowkett said chickenpox can be extremely dangerous, and 2500 prescriptions for antibiotics are given to treat infections associated with the virus every year.

Pharmac, the organisation that makes all decisions related to vaccines, will consider the universal vaccine in February.

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