Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Why is a vaccine
for chickenpox needed?
Chickenpox is a disease that can be very easily
spread from person to person. It is most common in children. Most cases occur in
people who are under 15 years old.
Chickenpox is usually a mild illness, but it can
cause problems like brain swelling, pneumonia and skin infections. Some children
get sicker than others. Chickenpox may be a very serious illness in infants and
Because chickenpox is so contagious, a child
with chickenpox shouldn't go to school or day care until all the sores have
dried or crusted. Many parents miss work during the time their child is ill with
chickenpox. Because of the lost time from work, chickenpox can be a significant
cost to parents of children who get the illness.
What is the
The varicella vaccine is a shot that can prevent
chickenpox. It is called varicella vaccine because the varicella virus causes
chickenpox. Up to 90% of people who receive the vaccine will not get chickenpox.
People who get chickenpox after having the vaccine have a milder form of the
Who should be
vaccinated against chickenpox?
The chicken pox vaccine is not required like
some other vaccines. However, it is generally safe and will save your child from
suffering with a preventable illness. Talk to your doctor about the vaccine if
you have questions. The vaccine is given to children from 12 to 18 months of
age. Older children can be given the vaccine if they haven't had
Adults who haven't had chickenpox but who work
in health care or day care should probably receive the varicella vaccine. Also,
college students or staff or inmates of correctional institutions should
probably receive the vaccine if they haven't had chickenpox. Women of
childbearing age who are not pregnant and who have not had chickenpox should
have the varicella vaccine. Your doctor may suggest you have the vaccine if
you've never had chickenpox and are an adult, especially if you will be
travelling to other countries.
receive the varicella vaccine?
People with immune diseases should not receive
the vaccine. People who are receiving high doses of steroids (such as
prednisone) should not be vaccinated. Pregnant women should not receive the
Are there any
side effects from the varicella vaccine?
The most common side effects are pain, redness
or swelling at the injection site. Severe reactions are rare.