Trial for new combination chicken pox vaccine

October 08, 2000

There are 240,000 cases, 1,200 hospitalisations and 4.2 deaths each year from chickenpox in Australia.

By the age of 12 years, over 60% of children will have had chicken pox (also known as Varicella), a highly contagious viral infection with symptoms including fever and a characteristic rash which blisters to form scabs, sometimes leading to scarring.

The Department of Paediatrics at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, is looking for 175 healthy children between the ages of 12 and 24 months, who have not yet been vaccinated with Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) or chickenpox vaccine, to participate in a new combination vaccine trial.

The trial is part of a world-wide trial involving 3,000 children and is a follow up to a smaller trial conducted at the hospital in 1997/1998 involving 240 children.

Dr Helen Marshall, Senior Medical Officer in Paediatrics at the hospital says, "By combining the chickenpox vaccine into the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine which children receive at this age, there would be no extra inconvenience for families, but very definite benefits.

"Children will avoid the unpleasant symptoms of chickenpox - the fever, rash and itch and parents won't be inconvenienced by having to take time off work to care for their sick children.

"Plus there will be no additional needles and associated stress", Dr Marshall says.

Whilst the chickenpox vaccine is licensed in Australia, and recommended for children from 12 months of age, it is not yet funded by the Government, but is available for private purchase.

All vaccines in the trial will be provided free of charge and administered by Research Medical Officers in the Department of Paediatrics.

This study will provide more information about the effectiveness of combining the chicken pox vaccine with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine so that the children of the future can be protected against all four diseases with only one injection.
-end-
Parents interested in more information about this vaccine study, are invited to contact Dr Helen Marshall or Michelle Busuttil on 8204 6328 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

To arrange interviews please contact:
Dr Edna Bates
Public Relations Officer
Tel: 618-8204-7388
email: batese@wch.sa.gov.au
or:
Mrs Chris Ostermann
Director of Media and Community Relations
mobile 0417-807-690
ostermannc@wch.sa.gov.au
Women's and Children's Hospital: http://www.wch.sa.gov.au

Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide - Part of the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service

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