Recommendations > Varicella susceptibility

The UK NSC recommendation on Varicella susceptibility screening in pregnancy (currently in consultation)


This recommendation is currently being reviewed as part of the UK NSC's regular review cycle of all policies.

The review process began in Mar 2015 and is estimated to be completed by Dec 2016.

» Download the expert review for Varicella susceptibility (PDF document, 866KB)

The UK NSC welcomes comments and feedback on the expert review during the consultation period that lasts from 06/08/2015 until 06/11/2015. Please send comments to John Marshall by e-mail using this feedback form.

Please note that all consultation submissions will be published on this page when the review is complete. Full details can be found in the confidentiality and disclosure section at the bottom of this page.

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended

In the context of the current primary prevention strategy of targeted immunisation to high risk groups there is insufficient evidence to recommend the introduction of routine antenatal screening for VZV susceptibility in the UK.


Current immunisation policy is to vaccinate non-immune healthcare workers.  Varicella vaccine is also recommended for healthy susceptible close household contacts of immunocompromised patients.


The policy for management of varicella in pregnancy is set by the Department of Health’s ‘Green Book’.


The RCOG also issued a green top guideline, ‘Chickenpox In Pregnancy’, in 2007.


The HPA included varicella in its guidelines on the management of rash illness in pregnancy, 2002.


Find general information about population health screening.

More about Varicella susceptibility

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the virus which causes chickenpox. In the UK chickenpox mostly occurs in children less than 10 years of age, causing a mild infection. A more serious infection is seen in adults and those with compromised immune systems. In the UK approximately 90% of women of childbearing age are protected against chickenpox.

Chickenpox acquired for the first time during pregnancy can result in serious maternal illness. It can also adversely affect the fetus and the risk of this happening depends upon the point at which maternal infection is acquired. However this remains very rare.

» Further information for pregnant women can be accessed at the RCOG website


Addiction Recovery Foundation
British Society for Immunology
Institute of Child Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More about the recommendation review process, including the role of stakeholders, can be found in the guide to Engaging with the UK NSC's recommendation review process.

Confidentiality and disclosure

The UK NSC aims to publish all responses to recommendation consultations in full. However we realise that some respondents may wish to remain anonymous. The consultation feedback form enables respondents to specify that their name should not be made public.

The UK NSC operates in accordance with the access to information regimes (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004). As such it will always be necessary to remove patient identifiable information, even if permission to publish this has been specifically given.

If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this, it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the UK National Screening Committee.

The UK National Screening Committee will process your personal data in accordance with the DPA and, in most circumstances, this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

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