Dr Richard Halvorsen

offering vaccine choice

Increased risk of seizures from varicella vaccine when given with MMR

If you really feel your child needs the varicella vaccine (to protect against chickenpox), then make sure that it is given on its own and not at the same time as the MMR and certainly not as the 4-in-1 combined MMRV. This is because new research shows that the risk of a first seizure in the 7-10 day period after vaccination (the time at greatest risk of fever and seizures) in children given the 4-iin-1 MMRV vaccine is twice that of children given the MMR and varicella vaccines at the same time but separately. Furthermore, the risk of a first seizure in children given the 4-iin-1 MMRV vaccine is over three times that of children given the MMR alone. We already know from an excellent study that 1 in 750 children suffer a seizure following the MMR vaccine. This new research implies that over 1 in 500 children will experience a seizure after the MMR when given at the same time but separately to the varicella vaccine. Most alarmingly, more than 1 in 250 children will suffer a seizure after being given the combined MMRV vaccine.
The argument for vaccination against chickenpox is not strong in the vast majority of children; indeed there are good arguments against using the vaccine on a mass scale. This new research tells us that when it is used, it should be given on its own and not at the same time the MMR vaccine, either separately or in the 4-in-1 combination.

Added 9 Aug 2010