Varivax Side Effects
Generic name: varicella virus vaccine
Note: This document contains side effect information about varicella virus vaccine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Varivax.
Some side effects of Varivax may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.
For the Consumer
Applies to varicella virus vaccine: subcutaneous powder for solution
Along with its needed effects, varicella virus vaccine (the active ingredient contained in Varivax) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking varicella virus vaccine:More common
- Fever over 39 °C (102 °F)
- Blue lips and fingernails
- chest pain
- chickenpox-like skin rash
- coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
- decreased urine output
- difficult, fast, or noisy breathing, sometimes with wheezing
- dilated neck veins
- extreme fatigue
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- increased sweating
- irregular breathing
- irregular heartbeat
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
- swelling of the ankles, face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing
- weight gain
- Black, tarry stools
- blood in the urine or stools
- convulsions (seizures) with high fever
- difficulty with breathing or swallowing
- itching, especially of the feet or hands
- muscle or joint pain
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- reddening of the skin, especially around the ears
- severe or continuing headache
- stiff neck
- swelling of the glands in the neck
- thickening of bronchial secretions
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness, sudden and severe
- Back pain, sudden and severe
- bleeding gums
- blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- bloody nose
- blurred vision
- bruising more easily
- convulsions (seizures)
- fast heartbeat
- heavier menstrual periods
- inability to move the arms and legs
- inability to speak
- large, flat, blue, or purplish patches in the skin
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- loss of bladder control
- muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
- painful blisters on the trunk of the body
- painful knees and ankles
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- raised red swellings on the skin, buttocks, legs, or ankles
- rapid weight gain
- red irritated eyes
- red skin lesions, often with a purple center
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- skin rash
- slurred speech
- sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
- stomach pain
- sudden loss of consciousness
- sudden numbness and weakness in the arms and legs
- swelling or puffiness of the face
- swollen or painful glands
- temporary blindness
- tingling of the hands or feet
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
- unusual weight gain or loss
- weakness in the arm or leg on one side of the body, sudden and severe
- weakness of the muscles in your face
Some side effects of varicella virus vaccine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:More common
- Fever of 37.7 °C (100 °F) or higher, but not above 39 °C (102 °F)
- hives, itching, pain, redness, soreness, tenderness, or warmth at the injection site
- Common cold
- cracked, dry, or scaly skin
- diaper rash
- disturbed sleep
- dry skin
- heat rash or prickly heat
- lack or loss of strength
- loss of appetite
- muscle aching or cramping
- muscle stiffness
- runny nose
- skin rash, encrusted, scaly, and oozing
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- swollen joints
- Bacterial skin infections
- body aches or pain
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- difficulty with moving
- dryness or soreness of the throat
- pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the skin
- red rash with watery, yellow-colored, or pus filled blisters
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- thick yellow to honey-colored crusts
- voice changes
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to varicella virus vaccine: subcutaneous powder for injection
The most frequent side effects have included fever, injection site reactions, and varicella-like rash.
Local side effects have included injection site pain, soreness, swelling, erythema, rash, pruritus, hematoma, induration, and stiffness in 19.3% of patients and a varicella-like rash at the injection in 3.8% of patients.
Other side effects have included fever with oral temperature >=102 degrees F (39 degrees C) and febrile seizures (in <0.1% of children).
Dermatologic side effects have included rash, contact rash, heat rash/prickly heat, eczema/dry skin/dermatitis, and itching; however, causality was not determined. A generalized varicella-like rash has been reported in 5.5% of adolescents and adults within 7 to 21 days after the first dose and in 0.9% within 0 to 23 days after the second dose. Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme, Henoch-Schoenlein purpura, secondary bacterial skin and soft tissue infections including impetigo and cellulitis, and herpes zoster have also been reported.
Gastrointestinal side effects have included diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, teething, abdominal pain, nausea, and constipation; however, causality was not determined.
Hypersensitivity reactions have included anaphylaxis, allergic rash, and hives.
Hematologic side effects have included thrombocytopenia.
Immunologic side effects have included chronic disseminated verrucous skin lesions associated with a herpes zoster infection which developed in a child who received immunosuppressive chemotherapy starting 5 days postvaccination. The herpes zoster infection developed 3 months after initiation of chemotherapy and then developed into verrucous lesions. DNA isolated from a lesion biopsy revealed the presence of the Oka vaccine strain of varicella virus, which was acyclovir-resistant.
Musculoskeletal side effects have included myalgia and arthralgia; however, causality was not determined.
Nervous system side effects have included irritability, nervousness, fatigue, and disturbed sleep; however, causality was not determined. Encephalitis, cerebrovascular accident, transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Bell's palsy, ataxia, nonfebrile seizures, dizziness, and paresthesia have also been reported.
Respiratory side effects have included upper and lower respiratory illness, cough, and pneumonitis (in <1% of children); however, causality was not determined.
Headache, lymphadenopathy, otitis, eye complaints, and stiff neck have also been reported; however, causality was not determined.
More Varivax resources
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