chicken pox vaccinationChicken pox was once considered a rite of passage for children, but the varicella vaccine has reduced the number of children suffering from the disease.

Why vaccinate?

Varicella causes painful, itchy rash. The rash can become infected and cause permanent scarring. Before the advent and implantation of the Varicella vaccination, more than 11,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths were attributed to chicken pox each year.

The Varicella vaccination decreases the likelihood of contracting chicken pox, but not everyone escapes the disease. Children who have been vaccinated and still contract chicken pox tend to recover from the condition more quickly than children who have not been vaccinated.

Vaccination Schedule

Children are given two doses of the Varicella vaccination. The first dose is administered at the 12 to 15 month visit and the second dose at the 4 to 6 year visit. If a child is 13 or older and never received the Varicella vaccination, they can be vaccinated. At least 28 days must pass between the first and second vaccinations.

Some doctors use the MMRV combination vaccine. MMRV combines the MMR and Varicella vaccinations into one dose.

Risks of the Vaccination

Common risks associated with the Varicella vaccination include injection site pain, fever and rash. Rashes may last for up to one month. If family members come in contact with the rash they may contract the chicken pox.

More severe side effects may include seizures, pneumonia and severe allergic reaction. Severe allergic reactions are rare. If your child experienced trouble breathing, wheezing, tightness in the lungs, hives or other allergic symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Signs Your Child Should Wait to Get Vaccinated

Children with a medical history of severe allergic reactions to vaccinations should make the physician aware of these reactions before having the Varicella vaccination. Other conditions that can affect the Varicella schedule include:

  • Moderate to severe illness
  • Pregnancy
  • HIV
  • Steroid use
  • Cancer

* If any of these conditions affect you or your child, you should not receive the Varicella vaccination.

Can Older Children/Adults be Vaccinated?

Vaccination against chicken pox can be given at any age; as long as the patient has not already had the chicken pox. Two doses are required for protection.

What Should I Do If My Child Has a Reaction?

If you feel your child is having a reaction, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical attention. The most life-threatening side effect is a severe allergic reaction. Emergency medical attention is required immediately.

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