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Child Ombudsman: Chickenpox vaccine could save millions of euros

The Ombudsman for Children says that adding the chickenpox vaccine to Finland's roster of vaccinations could save the country millions of euros. Mandatory vaccinations would not only reduce the common childhood ailment but could also save some 12 million euros in lost work hours due to the disease anually, the ombudsman says.

Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Tuomas Kurttila, Finland's ombudsman for children says that adding the chickenpox vaccine to the list of childhood vaccinations would be a good investment.

Kurttila says it would not only increase the health of children and cuts costs to health care, it would also reduce or eliminate the time that parents take off from work to care for kids with the illness.

Every year 60,000 people come down with chickenpox in Finland, costing the country some two million euros in health care costs every year.

But Kurttila says the biggest costs the illness are caused by the time parents spend away from work to care for an sick child.

According to estimates calculated in 2013, it would cost some 4.4 million euros annually to vaccinate every child in the country against chickenpox.

Vaccine could save millions of euros

With that investment, the 12 million euros lost due to chickenpox every year would be saved, Kurttila says.

Previously, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, has also called for the addition of the chickenpox vaccine to be added to Finland’s vaccination roster.

THL's statistics show that 90 percent of ten year-olds and virtually all 15 year-olds have come down with chickenpox.

For most people a chickenpox infection can be uncomfortable, but is not generally severe or life-threatening.

Among other things, the disease attacks the skin and is caused by the varicella zoster virus. The disease manifests itself in rashes and itchy blisters which can sometimes cover large areas of the body of those infected.

The vaccine for the disease is said to be effective in protecting some 70 to 90 percent of the population. In the United States, for example the vaccine has reduced chickenpox infections by about 90 percent.

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