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.

• It causes a rash, itching, fever, and tiredness.

•It can lead to severe skin infection, scars,pneumonia, brain damage, or death.

• The chickenpox virus can be spread from person to person through the air, or by contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters.

• A person who has had chickenpox can get a painful rash called shingles years later.

• Before the vaccine, about 11,000 people were hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States.

• Before the vaccine, about 100 people died each year in the United States as a result of chickenpox.

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 spots, are less likely to have a fever, and will recover faster.

2. Who should get chickenpox vaccine and when?


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

First dose: 12 through 15 months of age

Second dose: 4 through 6 years of age (may be given earlier if at lease 3 months after the first dose)

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.


Children or adolescents who are not fully vaccinated should receive one or two doses of chickenpox vaccine. The timing of these doses depends on the person's age. Ask your provider.

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

NOTE: Chickenpox vaccine may be given along with measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine in a combination vaccine called M.M.R.V.

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

• People should not get chickenpox vaccine if they have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or (for those needing a second dose) a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine.

• People who are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting chickenpox vaccine.

• Pregnant women should wait to get chickenpox vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should not get pregnant for 1 month after getting chickenpox vaccine.

• Some people should check with their doctor about whether they should get chickenpox vaccine, including anyone who:

- Has H.I.V./AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system

- Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, for 2 weeks or longer

- Has any kind of cancer - Is getting cancer treatment with radiation or drugs

• People who recently had a transfusion or were given other blood products should ask their doctor when they may get chickenpox vaccine.

Ask your doctor or nurse for more information.

4. What are the risks from chickenpox vaccine?

Getting chickenpox vaccine is much safer than getting chickenpox disease. Most people who get chickenpox vaccine do not have any problems with it.However, 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.

Mild Problems

• Soreness or swelling where the shot was given (about 1 out of 5 children and up to 1 out of 3 adolescents and adults)

• Fever (1 person out of 10, or less)

• Mild rash, up to a month after vaccination (1 person out of 20, or less). It is possible for these people to infect other members of their household, but this is extremely rare. NOTE: M.M.R.V. vaccine has been associated with higher rates of fever (up to about 1 person in 5) and measles-like rash (about 1 person in 20) than M.M.R. and varicella vaccines given separately.

Moderate Problems

• Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (less than 1 person out of 1,000).

Severe Problems

•Pneumonia (very rare)

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.

5. What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Any unusual condition, such as a serious allergic reaction, high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.

What should I do?

• Call a doctor, or get the person to a doctor right away.

• Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given.

• Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System VAERS) form. Or you can file this report through the VAERS website at w.w.w. dot v.a.e.r.s. dot h.h.s. dot g.o.v., or by calling 1-800-822-7967.






Copyright © 1992-2017. Healthy Traveler Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Healthy Traveler name, logo and designs are protected by numerous trademarks and copyrights with the United States Trademark Office,
Canadian Intellectual Property Office and Copyrights and the EU Trademarks and Copyrights Registrations.
Use of this website signifies your agreement to the
Terms of Use and Online Privacy Policy (updated January 01, 2017)


"THE Vaccination Experts""

626 • 584 • 1200