Room for improvement in vaccination coverage for chickenpox among the youngest children

According to information in the national vaccination register, almost all school-aged children are protected against chickenpox, but there is still room for improvement in the vaccinations of the youngest children. Almost one in five 1.5-year-olds had not been vaccinated over the years 2017-2019.

Chickenpox (also known as varicella) is highly contagious and without the vaccination almost everyone will get the disease. The most typical symptoms are blisters and fever lasting approximately 5 to 7 days.

It is important to acquire immunity from chickenpox in childhood as it can cause serious secondary diseases, especially in adults. The most common secondary disease in children is severe bacterial infection of the skin and in adults pneumonia. Chickenpox is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as it can harm the foetus. Although circulation of the chickenpox virus has been reduced in Finland due to vaccinations, it is possible to catch the disease while on holiday abroad, for example.

The chickenpox vaccination is part of the National Immunisation Programme. The routine immunisation schedule for chickenpox consists of two doses. The first vaccine is given at the age of 1.5 years and the second dose at the age of 6 years in combination with the MMR vaccine. In the initial phase of the Immunisation Programme, the vaccine is offered to all children aged 1.5 to 11 years who have not yet had chickenpox.

Sources (in Finnish)