ABU DHABI — The Health Authority — Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has made chickenpox vaccine part of the national immunisation programme for children, effective from Tuesday.
A statement released by the authority said that the varicella vaccine (live attenuated vaccine) would be administered to children of 12 months old, born after September 1, 2009 to immunise them against chicken pox.
The national immunisation programme, which was introduced in the UAE in 1978, included six basic vaccines against tuberculosis, Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertusis and Measles.
“During 2009, HAAD received notification of 7,219 cases of chickenpox. Introducing the vaccine to the national immunisation programme will help to combat this highly contagious illness. While the vaccine has been registered in the UAE for some time, it has previously been targeted at specific groups,” Dr Farida Al Hosani, section head of Communication Diseases at HAAD, said.
The vaccine will be available in all health facilities in the emirate from October 3. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is generally a common but mild disease in children that causes an itchy rash and red spots appearing first on the abdomen or back and face, before spreading all over the body.
Early symptoms often include fever, headache and sore throat. A child may also feel tired and not hungry.
The rash usually appears about one or two days following the first symptoms. Some children may get chickenpox rash without having fever or any of the early symptoms. Chickenpox is very contagious, specially two days before the onset of the rash and after all lesions has crusted. The average incubation period for varicella is 14–16 days.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, varicella occurs worldwide in temperate climates, with peak incidence during late winter and early spring.