Chickenpox Vaccine

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox (also called Varicella Zoster) is a common childhood disease. It is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults. The chickenpox virus can be spread from person to person through the air, or by contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters. It causes a rash, itching, fever, and tiredness. It can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage, or in severe cases death.

What is the Chickenpox vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine is described as attenuated, which means that it contains a live weakened strain of the actual chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus. The vaccine gives protection against chickenpox, by stimulating the body's immune system to produce its own defence against the virus.


Who should have the vaccine?

In the UK the vaccine can be given to adults and children over the age of one year. Two doses are given, at least 4 weeks apart. The chickenpox vaccine is not currently part of the routine childhood schedule in the UK, although it is in some other counties. This means that if you are concerned about chickenpox, you will need to arrange to have the vaccine. However, given that the vaccine is a live vaccine and relies on the body's own immune system, it should not be administered to people who are clinically immunosuppressed.


What protection does the vaccine give?

It has been shown that 9 out of 10 children vaccinated with a single dose will develop immunity against chickenpox. A two-dose schedule is now recommended for all, as it gives a better immune response. Three-quarters of teenagers and adults who are vaccinated will develop immunity against chickenpox. Two doses of the vaccine give about 98% protection in children and about 75% protection in teenagers and adults. A small proportion of the population may still get chickenpox after having the vaccine. However, those who receive the vaccine but still get chickenpox, the symptoms will usually be milder. They will have fewer spots, are less likely to have a fever, and will recover faster.


Is the vaccine safe?

Because the chickenpox vaccine is live, there is a very small risk that someone who has been vaccinated could pass on the virus to someone who is not immune to chickenpox. This is usually only a risk if the person who has been vaccinated develops a chickenpox type rash at the injection site or elsewhere on the body.


Do children who are vaccinated with a single dose develop immunity?

It has been shown that 9 out of 10 children vaccinated with a single dose will develop immunity against chickenpox. A two-dose schedule is now recommended for all, as it gives a better immune response. Three-quarters of teenagers and adults who are vaccinated will develop immunity against chickenpox.


Does the vaccine contain thiomersal (mercury)?

The vaccine does not contain thiomersal.


What is the cost of the Chickenpox Vaccine?

The cost is ?90 per dose of vaccine.


Do people who have had Chickenpox get shingles in later life?

A person who has had Chickenpox can get a painful rash called shingles years later.

Shingles Vaccine

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