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See detailVaricella vaccination in Europe – taking the practical approach
Bonanni, Paolo; Breuer, Judith; Gershon, Anne A. et al

in BMC Medicine (2009), 7(26), 1-38

Varicella is a common viral disease affecting almost the entire birth cohort. Although usually self-limiting, some cases of varicella can be serious, with 2 to 6% of cases attending a general practice ... [more ▼]

Varicella is a common viral disease affecting almost the entire birth cohort. Although usually self-limiting, some cases of varicella can be serious, with 2 to 6% of cases attending a general practice resulting in complications. The hospitalisation rate for varicella in Europe ranges from 1.3 to 4.5 per 100,000 population/year and up to 10.1% of hospitalised patients report permanent or possible permanent sequelae (for example, scarring or ataxia). However, in many countries the epidemiology of varicella remains largely unknown or incomplete. In countries where routine childhood vaccination against varicella has been implemented, it has had a positive effect on disease prevention and control. Furthermore, mathematical models indicate that this intervention strategy may provide economic benefits for the individual and society. Despite this evidence and recommendations for varicella vaccination by official bodies such as the World Health Organization, and scientific experts in the field, the majority of European countries (with the exception of Germany and Greece) have delayed decisions on implementation of routine childhood varicella vaccination, choosing instead to vaccinate high-risk groups or not to vaccinate at all. In this paper, members of the Working Against Varicella in Europe group consider the practicalities of introducing routine childhood varicella vaccination in Europe, discussing the benefits and challenges of different vaccination options (vaccination vs. no vaccination, routine vaccination of infants vs. vaccination of susceptible adolescents or adults, two doses vs. one dose of varicella vaccine, monovalent varicella vaccines vs. tetravalent measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccines, as well as the optimal interval between two doses of measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccines). Assessment of the epidemiology of varicella in Europe and evidence for the effectiveness of varicella vaccination provides support for routine childhood programmes in Europe. Although European countries are faced with challenges or uncertainties that may have delayed implementation of a childhood vaccination programme, many of these concerns remain hypothetical and with new opportunities offered by combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccines, reassessment may be timely. In countries where routine childhood vaccination against varicella has been implemented, it has had a positive effect on disease prevention and control. Furthermore, mathematical models indicate that this intervention strategy may provide economic benefits for the individual and society. Despite this evidence and recommendations for varicella vaccination by official bodies such as the World Health Organization, and scientific experts in the field, the majority of European countries (with the exception of Germany and Greece) have delayed decisions on implementation of routine childhood varicella vaccination, choosing instead to vaccinate high-risk groups or not to vaccinate at all. In this paper, members of the Working Against Varicella in Europe group consider the practicalities of introducing routine childhood varicella vaccination in Europe, discussing the benefits and challenges of different vaccination options (vaccination vs. no vaccination, routine vaccination of infants vs. vaccination of susceptible adolescents or adults, two doses vs. one dose of varicella vaccine, monovalent varicella vaccines vs. tetravalent measles, mumps, rubella and varicella [MMRV] vaccines, as well as the optimal interval between two doses of MMRV vaccines). Assessment of the epidemiology of varicella in Europe and evidence for the effectiveness of varicella vaccination provides support for routine childhood programmes in Europe. Although European countries are faced with challenges or uncertainties that may have delayed implementation of a childhood vaccination programme, many of these concerns remain hypothetical and with new opportunities offered by combined MMRV vaccines, reassessment may be timely. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Oka varicella vaccines are more equal than different
Rentier, Bernard ULg; Gershon, Anne A.

in Vaccine (2004), 22(25-26), 3225-3226

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See detailConsensus : Varicella vaccination of healthy children - A challenge for Europe
Rentier, Bernard ULg; Gershon, Anne A.

in Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal (2004), 23(5), 379-389

The seriousness of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection as a public health issue is becoming clearer as country-specific epidemiologic and pharmacoeconomic data become available. In Germany, for example ... [more ▼]

The seriousness of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection as a public health issue is becoming clearer as country-specific epidemiologic and pharmacoeconomic data become available. In Germany, for example, studies have shown that >5.5% of immunologically healthy individuals develop varicella-related complications such as bacterial superinfections, acute neurologic disorders, pneumonia, bronchitis and otitis media; whereas in Italy, 3.5 to 5% of childhood cases of varicella cause complications such as upper respiratory tract and cutaneous infections. Varicella vaccines are now available. These live attenuated Oka strain vaccines have been shown in extensive studies to be highly immunogenic and well-tolerated in immunocompetent and immunocompromised children, with seroconversion rates ranging from 94 to 100% and 53 to 100%, respectively. These vaccines are also highly effective against clinical disease. These considerations led to a reevaluation of varicella vaccination policies. A routine varicella vaccination program targeting healthy children has already been implemented in the US, and data produced are encouraging and valuable. Similar strategies have not yet been adopted across Europe. The European Working Group on Varicella (EuroVar) was formed in 1998 to address the issues surrounding varicella epidemiology in Europe. After a series of meetings, the EuroVar members prepared a consensus statement recommending routine varicella vaccination for all healthy children between 12 and 18 months and to all susceptible children before their 13th birthday, in addition to catch-up vaccination in older children and adults who have no reliable history of varicella and who are at high risk of transmission and exposure. However, such a policy is recommended only if a very high coverage rate can be achieved. This could be reached with a measles-mumps-rabella-varicella combined vaccine. [less ▲]

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