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Notice to Readers: Resumption of Routine Schedule for Varicella Vaccine

Supplies of varicella vaccine (VARIVAX®) in the United States have become sufficient to permit the resumption of the routine schedule as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) (1--3). Childcare and school attendance provisions requiring children to receive the varicella vaccine should be reinstituted.

A temporary shortage of varicella vaccine in the United States resulted from a voluntary interruption of manufacturing operations by Merck & Co., Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of varicella vaccine (4). During the vaccine shortage, ACIP recommended the delay of the routine childhood varicella vaccine dose from age 12--18 months until age 18--24 months (1,2) and made additional recommendations for prioritizing use in the event of a persistent shortage (4).

Health-care providers should review the vaccination status of their patients and administer varicella vaccine as appropriate. Recall programs for deferred unvaccinated persons should be instituted. CDC will continue to monitor vaccine supply. Updates about vaccine supply and shortages are available at http://www.cdc.gov/nip.

References

  1. CDC. Prevention of varicella: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 1996;45 (No. RR-11).
  2. CDC. Prevention of varicella: updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 1999;48(No. RR-6).
  3. CDC. Recommended childhood immunization schedule---United States, 2002. MMWR 2002;51:31--3.
  4. CDC. Shortage of varicella and measles, mumps and rubella vaccines and interim recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR 2002;51:190--1.


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