Superdrug has announced plans to make the Chickenpox vaccine available on the high street in the UK. The move highlights how pharmacies in the UK are playing an increasingly important role in terms making vaccination more accessible on the high street.
The announcement may put pressure on JCVI to reconsider whether the NHS should make the vaccine directly available as part of the children’s schedule.
Whilst the vaccine is recommended in the US, one reason it isn’t on the official UK schedule is a fear that vaccinating children will increase the likelihood of older people getting shingles.
As the NHS point out, vaccinating children could result in “a significant increase in cases of shingles in adults. Being exposed to chickenpox as an adult – for example, through contact with infected children – boosts your immunity to shingles. If you vaccinate children against chickenpox, you lose this natural boosting, so immunity in adults will drop and more shingles cases will occur.”
In the (very) long term, vaccinating children against chicken pox could significantly reduce the likelihood of shingles in old age.
Irrespective of how successful the Superdrug initiative is, it is vital that we increase the uptake of shingles vaccination which has been falling year on year in the UK.