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Sweden mulls universal chickenpox vaccinations for children

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Sweden mulls universal chickenpox vaccinations for children
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
11:02 CET+01:00
Sweden is considering introducing a universal vaccination programme against chickenpox, which would make such vaccinations free for toddlers.

According to national broadcaster SVT, the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) will this year launch an investigation into the benefits of introducing universal vaccinations against chickenpox for children. The study will specifically look at the potential cost reductions such preventative measure would have on society as a whole in terms of reducing the pressure on the healthcare sector and avoiding parents needing to take time off work to care for their sick children.

“I believe in universal programmes, not the least because of the equality aspect. There might be people who can't afford vaccinations,” Ann Lindstrand, a spokeswoman at the government agency was quoted as saying.

“In the fall we will launch a study looking at the combination of chickenpox and shingles,” she said, adding: “We have a priority list of vaccines that we're looking into to and which has been created in consultation with the advisory committee for universal vaccinations.”

Although children infected with chickenpox generally just suffer from irritated skin and itching, SVT says one to three out of every 1,000 Swedish children fall ill to the extent that they need to be hospitalised. One child a year is estimated to die from the disease.  

A group of Swedish doctors made a push for chickenpox vaccinations to be made universal eight year ago, publishing a study in the medical journal Läkartidningen in which they said that aside from reducing the suffering among children, it would be financially profitable for Swedish society.

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