Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine

Generic Name: varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine (VAR-i-SEL-a)
Brand Name: Varivax

Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is used for:

Preventing varicella (chickenpox) infections in patients 12 months old and older.

Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is a vaccine. It works by stimulating the body to produce antibodies against the virus that causes chickenpox. This helps to provide long-term protection against chickenpox.

Do NOT use varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine, including gelatin
  • you have a history of allergic reaction to neomycin
  • you have certain blood or bone marrow problems (eg, leukemia, lymphoma, other cancer of the blood or bone marrow)
  • you are taking medicine that weakens the immune system
  • you have immune system problems, including AIDS
  • you have a family history of immune system problems, unless you are medically proven to have no immune system problems
  • you have active, untreated tuberculosis (TB)
  • you have a fever
  • you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the next 3 months

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine:

Some medical conditions may interact with varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have cancer, are very ill, or have a history of immune system problems (eg, HIV infection) or recent infection
  • if you have had a blood or platelet transfusion or have received immune globulin or varicella-zoster immune globulin within the past 5 months
  • if you will be having a TB skin test

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Corticosteroids (eg, prednisone) because the risk of infection may be increased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine:

Use varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is administered as an injection at your doctor's office or clinic. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions that you may have about varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine.
  • If you miss a dose of varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine.

Important safety information:

  • This vaccine contains a weakened form of the varicella (chickenpox) virus. This is necessary to provide the best immunity.
  • The length of time that varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine protects you from chickenpox infection is unknown.
  • Avoid close contact with newborns, pregnant women who have not had chickenpox, people taking cancer chemotherapy, people who are very ill, and other people with immune system problems for 6 weeks after you receive this vaccine.
  • Do not take aspirin or products containing aspirin or other salicylates (eg, bismuth) for at least 6 weeks after receiving this vaccine.
  • Do not receive this vaccine for at least 5 months after blood or plasma transfusions, or administration of immune globulin or varicella-zoster immune globulin.
  • You should usually not receive any immune globulin, including varicella-zoster immune globulin, for 2 months after you receive this vaccine.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 12 months old. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is unknown if this vaccine can cause harm to the fetus. Do not use this vaccine if you are pregnant. Avoid becoming pregnant while using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine and for 3 months following vaccination. If you think you may be pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. It is unknown if varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is excreted in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Fever; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); chickenpox-like rash; confusion; numbness or tingling of the skin; one-sided weakness; red, swollen, or blistered skin; seizures; severe fever or headache; shortness of breath; slurred speech; trouble walking; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusually pale skin; vision problems; wheezing.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine:

Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine at home, store varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using varicella (chickenpox) virus vaccine.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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