Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccine

New recommendations are coming, probably Jan 2007.


About the Disease

Varicella is a common childhood disease which can be serious. It spreads when germs pass from an infected person to the nose or throat of others. Chickenpox causes a rash, itching, tiredness and fever. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage or death. A person who has had chickenpox can develop zoster (shingles) years later. Shingles causes a painful skin rash.

About the Vaccine

Chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent against chickenpox. About 70-90% of people who get the vaccine are protected from chickenpox. If vaccinated children do get chickenpox, it is usually very mild. They have fewer spots, lower fever, and recover more quickly. Vaccinated children who get this milder form of chickenpox can still spread the disease to others who are not protected.

Who Should Get the Vaccine?

Cautions: Tell us if the person getting the vaccine:

Risks from the Vaccine

As with any medicine, there are very small risks that serious problems, even death, could occur after getting the chickenpox vaccine. However, almost all people who use the vaccine have no problems. It has not been shown to cause any serious problems. The risks from the vaccine are smaller than the risks from the disease.

Mild Problems

Moderate Problems

What to do if there is a serious reaction

Information from the CDC, US Department of Health and Human Services