Three quarters of UK parents support routine chicken pox vaccine for children, study shows
- Nearly three quarters of parents surveyed for a new study said they would support a chicken pox vaccine being added to the childhood vaccination schedule.
- 74% said they were likely to accept such a vaccine for their child if it was introduced, while only 18.3% said they were unlikely to, and 7.7% said they were unsure.
- The Joint Committe on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is considering whether to recommend adding the varicella vaccine to the childhood vaccination schedule.
Majority in favour of vaccine
New research led by Keele University and UCL (University College London) has found that almost three quarters of parents would support a chickenpox vaccine being added to the childhood vaccination schedule.
The research team led by Dr Sue Sherman from Keele University and Professor Helen Bedford from UCL, funded by a British Psychological Society Undergraduate Bursary to Dr Sherman and Keele psychology student Nicola Lingley-Heath, surveyed nearly 600 parents on their attitudes towards a varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, including whether it should be routinely offered to all children, and whether they would be likely to accept it for their child.
Of those surveyed, 74% said they were likely to accept such a vaccine for their child if it was introduced, while only 18.3% said they were unlikely to, and 7.7% said they were unsure.
Differing parental attitudes
Parents who were likely to accept the vaccine cited reasons such as protection from complications of chickenpox, trust in the vaccine and healthcare professionals, and wanting their child to avoid their personal experience of chickenpox.
Those who were unlikely to accept it said their reasons included chickenpox not being a serious illness, having concerns about side effects, and their belief that it is preferable to catch chickenpox as a child rather than as an adult.
The results, published in Vaccine, also indicated that parents preferred the idea of a combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine, or an additional visit to the surgery, over an additional injection at the same visit when other vaccines are given.
Implications for healthcare policy
The research comes as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is considering whether to recommend adding the varicella vaccine to the childhood vaccination schedule.
Dr Sherman, Reader in Psychology at Keele University said: “Although chickenpox is usually a mild illness, for some individuals it can be a severe illness, requiring hospitalisation and, rarely in children, resulting in death. Our research suggests that the majority of parents would be willing to have the vaccine for their children if the JCVI decides to recommend it for the childhood schedule.”
Professor Helen Bedford, Professor of Children’s Health at UCL, added: “In our study, conducted in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was reassuring to find that the overwhelming majority of parents considered routine childhood vaccines to be important, safe and effective. If a chickenpox vaccine is added to the schedule, the majority of parents reported they would accept it for their child.”
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