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Chickenpox Vaccine

What is the chickenpox vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine is an injection given to protect you from chickenpox. Chickenpox is a common childhood infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The virus causes fever and an itchy rash that spreads over the entire body. The rashes turn into small blisters that dry up to form scabs. The infection may spread and damage your skin, lungs, and brain. The chickenpox vaccine may be given by itself or combined with other vaccines.

Who should get the chickenpox vaccine?

  • Children: Children should receive 2 chickenpox vaccinations. The first dose is given at 12 to 15 months. The second dose is given at 4 to 6 years. The second dose may be given before a child is 4 years old. There must be at least 3 months between doses for children 12 years or younger. There must be at least 4 weeks between doses for children 13 years or older.

  • Adults: You may need the chickenpox vaccine if you have never had chickenpox. Adults should receive 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart. If you have only had 1 dose, you need another dose.

  • Anyone at high risk for chickenpox: The following groups are at higher risk for infection and may need the chickenpox vaccine:

    • Healthcare workers

    • People who live or work near others who have decreased immunity

    • Teachers

    • Childcare workers

    • College students

    • People in the military

    • Residents and staff of institutional settings

    • People who live in a household with children

    • Travelers to other countries

    • Nonpregnant women of childbearing age

Who should not get the chickenpox vaccine?

Do not get the chickenpox vaccine if you have had an allergic reaction to neomycin, gelatin, or a previous chickenpox vaccine. The following people usually do not need the chickenpox vaccine because they are already protected:

  • Anyone who has had 2 doses of the chickenpox vaccine at least 4 weeks apart.

  • Anyone who has already had chickenpox or shingles (herpes zoster infection).

  • Anyone born in the United States before 1980.

Who should wait to get the chickenpox vaccine?

  • Anyone who is sick or has a fever should wait until they feel better to get the vaccine.

  • A pregnant woman should wait to get the vaccine until after she gives birth. A woman should not get pregnant for 1 month after she gets the vaccine. A woman who is trying to get pregnant should wait until her caregiver says it is okay to get the vaccine.

  • Anyone who takes antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir. These medicines should be stopped for at least 1 day before you get the chickenpox vaccine.

  • Anyone who has gotten a smallpox vaccine should wait at least 4 weeks before getting the chickenpox vaccine.

  • Ask your caregiver if you should get the chickenpox vaccine if:

    • You are being treated with medicines that weaken the immune system, such as steroids.

    • You have a disease that weakens the immune system, such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS.

    • You have received a blood transfusion in the past 3 to 11 months.

    • You have untreated, active tuberculosis (TB).

What are the risks of the chickenpox vaccine?

The area where the vaccine was given may be red, tender, or swollen. You may still get chickenpox, even after you get the vaccine. You may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

Where can I get more information about the chickenpox vaccine?

  • The National Immunization Program Public Inquiries
    1600 Clifton Road, Mailstop E-05
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.

  • You have questions or concerns about the chickenpox vaccine.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if you have any of the following signs and symptoms of a serious allergic reaction:

  • Your face is red or swollen.

  • You have hives that spread over your body.

  • You feel weak or dizzy.

  • Your mouth and throat are swollen.

  • You are wheezing or have trouble breathing.

  • You have chest pain or your heart is beating faster than normal.

  • You feel like you are going to faint.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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