Chickenpox vaccination program to expand
Published Tuesday, July 24, 2012 10:49AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 24, 2012 5:19PM MDT
A second dose of chickenpox vaccine is set to become part of the regular schedule of immunizations available for free to all preschool children in Alberta.
The province said starting on August 1; the chickenpox or varicella vaccine will be combined with the second dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine scheduled for children between the ages of four and six.
The initial dose of this vaccine is given to babies at 12 months old.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health told CTV News children are still getting the disease – although the total number of cases has dropped.
“They’ve come down significantly, since we started the first dose,” Dr. James Talbot said. “But they’re starting to plateau.”
Dr. Talbot said children in that age group were chosen because it’s at about that age that the effectiveness of the first shot begins to wear off.
“Varicella vaccine was found to be 90 per cent effective in preventing the disease, significantly increasing resistance for children, and protecting other family members.”
The Health Minister said the two doses of the vaccine will be made available to the more than 4,000 eligible preschool-aged children.
Officials said there is no plan at this time to administer the shots to children older than six years of age.
“We’ll start with 4 to 6 years old, then look at a catch up program,” Dr, Talbot said.
Last year there were around 3,500 cases of chickenpox in the province, which is about 15 times lower than the number of cases when the program started in 2001.
Alberta is now among a number of other provinces who offer a second-dose program for the chickenpox vaccination.