A new four-in-one jab that combines vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox will be put forward for possible use in Britain.

The new "super jab" has been developed by the drugs company GlaxoSmithKline, which plans to file an application for a European licence later this year.

If approved, the vaccine could be in use as early as 2003 across European Union member states. But a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are not in any way considering adding any vaccine to MMR at the moment. If and when such a vaccine is licensed, we will consider all the evidence on its safety and efficacy in combating chickenpox and shingles."

The jab is not yet available anywhere in the world. But the manufacturers could be keen to supply Britain, which has no licensed vaccine for chickenpox, even though there are ongoing concerns over a possible but unproven link between MMR and autism.