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Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine

1. Why get vaccinated?

Chickenpox (also called varicella) is a common childhood disease. It is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults.

Chickenpox vaccine can prevent chickenpox.

Most people who get chickenpox vaccine will not get chickenpox. But if someone who has been vaccinated does get chickenpox, it is usually very mild. They will have fewer blisters, are less likely to have a fever, and will recover faster.

2. Who should get chickenpox vaccine and when?

ROUTINE

Children who have never had chickenpox should get 2 doses of chickenpox vaccine at these ages:

People 13 years of age and older (who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine) should get two doses at least 28 days apart.

CATCH-UP

Anyone who is not fully vaccinated, and never had chickenpox, should receive one or two doses of chickenpox vaccine. The timing of these doses depends on the person’s age. Ask your doctor.

Chickenpox vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Note: A “combination” vaccine called MMRV, which contains both chickenpox and MMR vac­cines, may be given instead of the two individual vaccines to people 12 years of age and younger.

3. Some people should not get chickenpox vaccine or should wait.

Ask your doctor for more information.

4. What are the risks from chickenpox vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of chickenpox vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Getting chickenpox vaccine is much safer than getting chickenpox disease. Most people who get chickenpox vaccine do not have any problems with it. Reactions are usually more likely after the first dose than after the second.

Mild problems

Moderate problems

Severe problems

Other serious problems, including severe brain reactions and low blood count, have been reported after chickenpox vaccination. These happen so rarely experts cannot tell whether they are caused by the vaccine or not. If they are, it is extremely rare.

Note: The first dose of MMRV vaccine has been associated with rash and higher rates of fever than MMR and varicella vaccines given separately. Rash has been reported in about 1 person in 20 and fever in about 1 person in 5.

Seizures caused by a fever are also reported more often after MMRV. These usually occur 5–12 days after the first dose.

5. What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

What should I do?

VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.

6. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.

Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

7. How can I learn more? Ask your doctor.


Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last updated May 8, 2015