Chickenpox is a disease that can spread easily from person to person. It is more common in children. Most cases occur in people who are under 15 years of age.
Chickenpox is usually a mild illness but can cause problems such as brain swelling, pneumonia and skin infections. Some children get sicker than others. Chickenpox can be a very serious illness in infants and adults.
Because chickenpox is so contagious, a child with chickenpox should not go to school or daycare until all skin lesions have dried or crusted. Many parents do not go to work during the time your child has chickenpox. Because of the loss of working time, chickenpox can be a significant cost to parents of children who get the disease.
What is the chickenpox vaccine?
The chickenpox vaccine is a shot that can prevent chickenpox. Up to 90% of people who receive the vaccine will not get chickenpox. People who get chickenpox after the vaccine have a milder form of the disease.
Who should be vaccinated against chickenpox?
The chickenpox vaccine is not required like some other vaccines. However, usually this vaccine is safe and will prevent your child suffers from a disease that is preventable. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine. This is given to children 12 to 18 months of age.
The following people should probably chickenpox vaccine if they have never had chickenpox:
- Older children, adolescents and adults
- Workers' health care or child care
- College students
- Military personnel
- Inmates and staff working in correctional institutions
- Women of childbearing age who are not pregnant women should avoid pregnancy for 1 month after getting the vaccine.
- Anyone traveling to other countries outside the United States of America.
Who should not get vaccinated against chickenpox?
The following people should not get vaccinated against chickenpox:
- Anyone with a serious illness
- Pregnant women
- Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine against chickenpox.
- Anyone allergic to gelatin, talk to your doctor because a vaccine does not contain gelatin.
- Anyone who is allergic to neomycin, an antibiotic often found in creams and ointments.
- Anyone with an immune system disease such as HIV.
- Any person who is receiving high doses of steroids such as prednisone.
- Any person who is receiving cancer treatment with x-rays, drugs or chemotherapy.
- Any person who has received blood products, such as transfusions, over the past 5 months.
Talk to your doctor if you have any doubt about whether you should or should not receive varicella vaccine.
Are there side effects from the chickenpox vaccine?
The most common side effects are pain, redness or swelling at the injection site. Severe reactions are rare. If your child seems to be having any side effects or any reaction to the vaccine, call your doctor right away.