HIQA to begin HTA on the addition of the chickenpox vaccine to the childhood immunisation schedule

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published the protocol for its newest health technology assessment (HTA) of the addition of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine to the routine childhood immunisation schedule. The protocol describes the approach that HIQA's team will use to complete this piece of work.

HIQA agreed to undertake this HTA following a request from the Department of Health. The request was supported by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

Varicella-zoster virus can cause two clinical syndromes: chickenpox, as a result of primary (initial) infection, and shingles, which typically occurs in later life due to reactivation of the virus. Chickenpox is a common infectious disease that mainly affects children; one case of chickenpox can potentially infect 10 to 12 people. Within EU/EEA countries, the annual incidence of chickenpox is typically equivalent to the birth cohort; the total number of births in Ireland annually is approximately 56,000.

Dr Conor Teljeur, HIQA's Chief Scientist said: “A vaccine for chickenpox was first developed almost 50 years ago. Over the last 30 years, a growing number of countries around the world have added the chickenpox vaccine to their routine childhood immunisation schedules. In Ireland, the vaccine is currently recommended for non-immune individuals in certain risk groups. Our assessment will examine the impact of adding the vaccine to the childhood immunisation schedule.”

The HTA will assess the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, budget impact, ethical and social aspects, and organisational changes associated with an expansion of the childhood immunisation schedule to include chickenpox vaccination. The findings of the assessment will inform a decision by the Department of Health.

You can find the protocol from the link at the top of the page.
The full Health Technology Assessment will be published in due course.


For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement 085 805 5202 / mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the editor:

  • The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published the following document: Protocol for a Health Technology Assessment: Expansion of the childhood immunisation schedule to include varicella (chickenpox) vaccination. The document outlines the approach and methods that will be used to complete the assessment.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that routine chickenpox immunisation for children should be considered in countries where chickenpox is an important public health burden and there are sufficient resources to vaccinate at least 80% of the population on an ongoing basis. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has also recommended introducing childhood immunisation for chickenpox, but only after countries have conducted their own assessments.
  • Information in relation to the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the primary childhood immunisation schedule are available here and here.