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In the UK, recommendations for varicella zoster (VZ) vaccination limit its use to certain key groups including non-immune healthcare workers, some laboratory staff and immediate family members of immunocompromised patients.1 As it is a live vaccine it should never be given during pregnancy.1 VZ vaccination is not part of the UK national immunisation programme, despite evidence from other countries of a reduction in chickenpox morbidity and mortality, and in congenital and newborn varicella following introduction of a universal vaccination programme.2
Although the vast majority of people living in the UK develop natural immunity after mild childhood illness, around 10% of the adult population is not immune, and adults arriving from some countries have lower likelihood of immunity to VZ.1 Current national guidelines recommend pregnant women with neither previous VZ infection nor vaccination against VZ to avoid exposure and seek post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if exposure does occur.3–5
Chickenpox is a potentially serious and life-threatening illness …
Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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