Chickenpox vaccine (Varicella) | Schedule| Effectiveness| Side Effects


What is chickenpox vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine is a safeguard against the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox. Since chickenpox is brought about by the varicella zoster virus, it is also called varicella vaccine. It is a safety measure that protects any individual who gets the vaccine from catching chickenpox.

How does chickenpox vaccine work?

The chickenpox vaccine is very effective. It is made of an animate but a feeble or diminished chickenpox-causing virus. The vaccine encourages the immune system to produce antibodies that can prevent chickenpox.

Types of chickenpox vaccine

There are two types of chickenpox vaccines available.

  1. MMRV: it is a combination vaccine that contains Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and chickenpox vaccines MMRV is made to use for children from 1 to 12 years old. To decide which vaccine should be used for your child, consult child specialist.
  2. Varicella: Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine

Recommended Dosage

The chickenpox vaccine is usually given as two separate injections into the upper arm at least three months apart.

Recommended Ages

  1. 1st Dose: 12-15 months of age
  2. 2nd Dose: 4-6 years of age

Chickenpox Symptoms



The symptoms or signs of chickenpox are as followed:

  • Itching
  • Blister-like rashes on the whole body (can spread into the mouth or inner parts of the body)
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes it can be severe and lead to:
  • Severe skin infection
  • Scars
  • Pneumonia
  • Brain damage
  • Death

Effectiveness of chickenpox vaccine

In the United States, it is a very common disease. Before getting vaccine about 4 million cases of chickenpox are found annually; while hospitalized patients range from 10,000 to 11,000 and 100 to 150 deaths. The chickenpox vaccine is very effective and can prevent chickenpox. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine or varicella vaccine for kids, adolescents, and adults. Two doses of the varicella vaccine can lower the risks to get chickenpox to 90 to 95%. Some people can still catch the chickenpox even after getting the vaccine but it is very mild and will recover faster. Chickenpox is usually milder with a few skin rashes and no fever but sometimes it gets severe and the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Is chickenpox contagious?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease. The varicella-zoster virus can be spread from person to person by the air. It also can be spread through contact with watery liquid from chickenpox blisters.


Who is at risk to catch chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a common disease usually with minor problems and intricacies are very rare. Almost all kids catch chickenpox and most of them only catch it once. Mostly the adults and adolescents are at higher risks to catch this disease. It gets usually more severe in adults leading to death. Most of the individuals do not have any problems to get vaccinated. However, some possible side effects exist in some cases.

Some of the people are more susceptible to catch chickenpox. They are as follows:


  • The people with weakened immune systems through HIV or medications like chemotherapy
  • Pregnant ladies – chickenpox can be very intense for the baby in the mother’s womb if a pregnant woman gets chickenpox. It may result in serious birth defects and in addition severe diseases in the infant after birth.


Who should have chickenpox vaccine?



The chickenpox vaccine is recommended for the following individuals:

  • The chickenpox immunization or varicella vaccine is not included in the routine childhood vaccination schedule. So children must get the two recommended doses of the chickenpox vaccine at the following ages:
  • People 12 years of age or younger and never had chickenpox and not vaccinated should receive two doses of chickenpox vaccine. The schedule to get chickenpox vaccine depends on the individual’s age. Ask your healthcare provider for more assistance.
  • People who live near to the individuals with weakened immune system
  • Non-immune kids or grown-ups living close to the patients having certain treatments like chemotherapy
  • The healthcare workers who work in a radiotherapy department and are not vaccinated.

Side effects of chickenpox vaccine

The chickenpox vaccine is much safe and usually people do not have any adverse reaction after getting the vaccination. Sometimes, it can cause reactions such as:

Mild reactions:

  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Face swelling
  • Weakness
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Swelling and pain where the shot was given
  • Sleep problems
  • Paleness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Mild rashes
  • Fever
  • Behavior changes

Severe and harmful reactions:

Some of the following serious and harmful reactions can also be seen but they are very rare.

  • Severe allergic problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and stomach pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Wheeziness
  • Seizure caused by fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Severe brain problems
  • Low blood count
  • Death

If these signs or reactions occur, go to your nearest hospital or call a doctor immediately.

Who should not get chickenpox vaccine or should wait?

  1. Pregnant women cannot get varicella vaccine so they should wait to get chickenpox vaccine until after they deliver a baby. Women who want to conceive should wait for 1 month after getting the chickenpox vaccine.
  2. The people who have any of the following problems must consult their doctor before getting the varicella vaccine:
  • The people with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS
  • The individuals who have any kind of cancer and are being treated through chemotherapy, radiations or drugs
  • The people who ever had a deadly allergic reaction after the first dose of chickenpox vaccine
  • The persons who are being treated with drugs, such as steroids, their immune systems get affected


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