Common health questions
Why isn’t the chickenpox vaccine available in the UK?
The chickenpox vaccine is now licensed in the UK but it is not part of routine childhood vaccinations.
The vaccine against the varicella virus (which causes chickenpox) is not currently recommended for standard use in children.
In most cases it is a mild illness and around 89% of adults in the UK will develop immunity to the illness.
If the chickenpox vaccine were to be added to the list of childhood vaccinations, it is feared that there would be a greater number of cases of shingles in adults, until the vaccination was given to the entire population. This is because adults who have had chickenpox as a child are less likely to have shingles in later life if they have been exposed occasionally to the chickenpox virus (for example by their children). This is because the exposure acts as a booster vaccine.
Last updated on 07 February 2008