About Varicella (Chickenpox)

What is Varicella?

Varicella (chickenpox) is a highly contagious disease that is very uncomfortable and sometimes serious. The chickenpox vaccine is the best protection against chickenpox. The vaccine is made from weakened varicella virus that produces an immune response in your body that protects you against chickenpox. Thanks to the chickenpox vaccine, the number of people who get chickenpox each year as well as hospitalizations and deaths from chickenpox have gone down dramatically in the United States.

What are the Types of Varicella Vaccine?

There are two types of Varicella Vaccine and both are used in different ways:

  • Varivax
    1. Contains only chickenpox vaccine
    2. Licensed for use in children 12 months and older, adolescents, and adults
    3. Can be given to children for their routine two doses of chickenpox vaccine at 12 though 15 months old and through 6 years old
  • ProQuad
    1. Contains a combination of measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccines, also called MMRV
    2. Only licensed for use in children 12 months through 12 years old
    3. Can be given to children for their routine two doses of chickenpox vaccine at 12 through 15 months old and 4 through 6 years old
    4. Children who get the first dose of this vaccine at 12 to 23 months old may have a higher chance of seizure caused by fever

Possible Side Effects of Chickenpox Vaccine?

Getting chickenpox vaccine is much safer than getting the disease. Most people who get the vaccine do not have any problems with it. But, as with any vaccine, there is a very small chance of having a side effect. Serious side effects to the chickenpox vaccine are very rare. They are usually more likely to occur after the first dose than after the second one.

Possible reactions include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Mild rash or several small bumps after vaccination. If you get chickenpox rash after vaccination, you can spread the disease to others. But, this is very rare. If you have chickenpox rash, you should stay away from people with weakened immune systems.
  • Seizure (jerking and staring spell) that may be caused by fever. Seizures after chickenpox vaccination may or may not be related to chickenpox vaccine.

Serious side effects from chickenpox vaccine are extremely rare. They may include severe brain reactions and low blood count. These side effects happen so rarely that experts cannot tell whether they are caused by chickenpox vaccine or not.

If experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately for emergency care.

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/basic-side-effects.htm

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