Chickenpox cases will decrease in Armenia by almost 50% in 4-5 years thanks to vaccination, expert says

January 17, 2024  21:12

Vaccination against chickenpox will be carried out for the first time in Armenia. The only prevention of this highly contagious virus is vaccination. The incidence of airborne chicken pox increases sharply in spring and winter. In closed spaces, especially in kindergartens and schools, one virus carrier quickly infects almost everyone.

Gayane Sahakyan, head of the National Immunization Program of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health, told Medicine that high infectivity is one of the reasons why Armenia decided to introduce chickenpox vaccination because almost 90-95% of those in close contact with the person carrying this virus are infected. More than 200 cases of illness are recorded per 100,000 population, and 80% are children under 18 years old.

"This does not mean that adults may not get sick [with chickenpox]. It's just that they came into contact with the virus in childhood," added Sahakyan.

Chickenpox vaccination will be introduced in Armenia in phases. The main respective age group is 12-month-old children. This vaccination will be carried out in accordance with the principle of measles and rubella vaccinations: at 1 year old, and from 4 to 6 years old. In the first phase, boys of pre-military age—15 and 16 years old—will also be vaccinated because at that age, the illness is more severe and serious complications arise. Girls who want to be drafted into the army will also be vaccinated.

Children aged 12 months will be vaccinated with one dose, and the second dose will be given at 4 to 6 years of age. The 15 and 16 year olds will be vaccinated with two doses. Those outside the specified age group can also be vaccinated—but on a paid basis. Gayane Sahakyan, however, could not answer how much this vaccine will cost because it depends on the price offered by the supplier.

"Now active work is being done to import the vaccine. It is not yet clear when the vaccination will start," said the head of the National Immunization Program of Armenia. Gayane Sahakyan informed that the morbidity will not decrease dramatically the year after the chickenpox vaccination. Since Armenia has chosen not mass, but planned vaccination, the result will be noticeable after 4-5 years.

"After 4-5 years, we will have a reduction of almost 50 percent," explained Gayane Sahakyan.

As of now, chickenpox vaccination has been administered in more than 60 countries. It is quite an expensive vaccine. But considering the safety and health of the population, Armenia also has decided to administer it.

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