Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Health
I propose to take Questions Nos. 495, 578 and 681 together.
The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). The committee's recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation. It makes recommendations on vaccination policy to my Department. NIAC continues to revise recommendations to allow for the introduction of new vaccines in Ireland and to keep abreast of changes in the patterns of disease. Therefore, the immunisation schedule will continue to be amended over time. All vaccines administered through the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule are provided free of charge.
Varicella (chickenpox) is an acute infectious disease caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Primary infection with varicella results in varicella (chickenpox). Recurrent infection results in herpes zoster (shingles).
NIAC has recently identified the evaluation of VZV as a key priority for 2020. My Department has written to HIQA to request that it considers undertaking a Health Technology Assessment relating to VZV vaccine in children in 2020 to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the current immunisation programme.