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Home > > Health & WellnessVaricella (Chickenpox) Immunizations

Varicella (Chickenpox) Immunizations

Chickenpox is a common childhood disease. It's usually mild, but can be serious in young infants and adults. Chickenpox causes a rash, itching, fever, and tiredness. It can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage, or death. A person who has had chickenpox can get a painful rash, called shingles, years later.

Who Should Get the Chickenpox Vaccine and When?

Children should get one dose of the vaccine between 12 and 18 months of age, or at any age after that if they have never had chickenpox.

People who don't get the vaccine until they are 13 years of age or older should get two doses, 4-8 weeks apart.

Who Should Not Get the Chickenpox Vaccine?

People who have had a life-threatening reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine should not receive the vaccine.

People who are moderately or severely ill should wait until they are well before getting the vaccine.

People who have recently had a blood transfusion or were given other blood products should ask their doctor when they may receive the vaccine.

What are the Risks from the Chickenpox Vaccine?

Like any medicine, a vaccine is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the chickenpox vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Getting the vaccine is much safer than having chickenpox disease. Most people who receive the vaccine do not have any problems.

Mild Problems

  • Soreness or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Mild rash

Moderate Problems:

  • Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by a fever

Severe Problems (Very Rare):

  • Pneumonia
  • Other serious problems, including severe brain reactions and low blood count, have been reported after chickenpox vaccination. These happen so rarely, it's hard to tell if the reaction is because of the vaccine or something else.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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