By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist announced this week they are preparing to launch general vaccination for chickenpox in the country in 2020.

A number of varicella, or chickenpox lesions on the face of a young child/CDC

While the chickenpox vaccine has been on the market in Iceland for 20 years, it has been little used.

Chickenpox is very common in Iceland–almost all Icelandic children have contracted chickenpox by the age of 10 and about half by the age of four.

Most babies will not be severely sick with chicken pox, but usually the illness will last for about one week.

Some children get the virus in the brain, liver or lungs and the illness can become much more severe in such infections. Deaths are rare among previously healthy children but occur.

The virus stays in the body after the illness passes and can break out later in the form shingles, Vaccination with chicken pox significantly reduces the risk of chicken pox and thus the likelihood of a vaccinated individual will get shingles.

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Chicken pox vaccines have been used in the United States and elsewhere for about 30 years with excellent results, and general vaccination was recently undertaken in Finland.

In Iceland, over 10% of pre-school children who have completed vaccination with chicken pox. It is too low a percentage to reduce the regular epidemics that we see in Iceland, but with general vaccination there is hope for a significant reduction in epidemics and possible disappearance over time if participation is good.

It will be available free of charge for all children born on January 1, 2019 or later.