Childhood Diseases

Updated 08 April 2016

Chickenpox vaccine shortage in Germany

German doctors have been told to ration two chickenpox vaccines for children after drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline stopped deliveries.

German doctors have been told to ration two chickenpox vaccines for children after drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline stopped deliveries, saying production quality standards had not been met.

Read more: Chickenpox shot provides long-term protection

Healthcare regulators have issued guidelines to physicians to deal with shortages of Priorix-Tetra, a combined vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox) known as MMRV; and Varilrix, a chickenpox jab.

Vaccines that have already been delivered are safe, said Germany's federal agency for infectious diseases and its vaccination agency, adding they expect GSK to resume deliveries during the second quarter, without being more specific.

Their advice to doctors include using MMR vaccines instead of MMRV for initial shots, and delaying booster jabs.

Standards not met

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Germany said it decided to stop all chickenpox vaccine deliveries after it found internal production quality standards had not been met, without elaborating. The spokeswoman could not say whether other countries were also affected.

The drugmaker said it would not resume deliveries until the cause of the problem was identified.

Separately, GSK said it also expects a shortage of Boostrix-Polio, a combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio, of more two weeks in February because an unexpected increase in demand amid limited production capacity.



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Prof Eugene Weinberg worked in the Paediatrics Department of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for many years. He is presently a paediatric allergist at the Allergy Diagnostic Unit of the UCT Lung Institute in Mowbray.

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