Why aren't children in the UK vaccinated against chickenpox?

The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the UK childhood vaccination programme. It is used to protect people who are most at risk of serious complications from chickenpox infection, such as:

  • pregnant women
  • people who have weakened immune systems, such as from HIV or through treatments such as chemotherapy

Chickenpox is usually a mild illness, particularly in children. The condition is so common in childhood that 90% of adults who grow up in the UK are immune to the chickenpox virus because they have had it before.

Chickenpox vaccine

The chickenpox vaccine can be used to immunise people who may pass the infection on to someone who is at risk. For example:

  • healthcare workers who are not immune to chickenpox
  • people in close contact with someone who has a weakened immune system  

For more information, see Who can have the chickenpox vaccination?

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 20/08/2014

Next review due: 19/08/2016