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Chickenpox Vaccine for Children

AMBULATORY CARE:

The chickenpox, or varicella, vaccine

is an injection given to protect your child from chickenpox. Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella virus. The vaccine may be given by itself or combined with other vaccines.

When your child should get the chickenpox vaccine:

Your child should receive 2 doses.

  • The first dose is given at 12 to 15 months .
  • The second dose is usually given at 4 to 6 years . Your child's healthcare provider will tell you when to bring your child in for the second dose. The timing is mainly based on your child's age when he or she gets the first dose.

Tell your child's healthcare provider

about your child's health conditions and current medicines. This will help him or her decide if your child should get the vaccine. Tell the provider if:

  • Your child takes a medicine that weakens the immune system, such as steroids, or a salicylate medicine, such as aspirin.
  • Your child has a weakened immune system, such as from cancer or HIV, or he or she has a family history of immune problems.
  • Your child has any severe allergies.
  • Your child received a blood transfusion in the past 3 to 11 months.
  • Your child got any other vaccines within the past 4 weeks.

Your child should not get the vaccine if:

  • He or she had an allergic reaction to gelatin or neomycin.
  • He or she had an allergic reaction to the first dose of the chickenpox vaccine. Do not have your child get the second dose.

Have your child wait to get the chickenpox vaccine if:

  • He or she is sick or has a fever.
  • He or she takes antiviral medicine. You will need to stop the medicine and wait at least 1 day before your child gets the chickenpox vaccine. Examples of antiviral medicines include acyclovir and valacyclovir.
  • He or she got a smallpox vaccine. Wait at least 4 weeks before you bring your child in for the chickenpox vaccine.
  • If your adolescent is pregnant, wait until after she gives birth to get the chickenpox vaccine.

Risks of the chickenpox vaccine:

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

Safety precautions after your child gets the chickenpox vaccine:

  • Do not give aspirin for 6 weeks after a dose of varicella vaccine. Aspirin and other salicylate medicines increase the risk for a serious condition called Reye syndrome after a varicella vaccine. Talk to your child's healthcare providers about safe medicines if needed to control a health condition.
  • If your child develops a rash, do not let him or her near anyone who is not protected against chickenpox. A rash is a sign that the varicella virus can spread to others. Your child's healthcare provider can tell you when your child will no longer be able to spread the varicella virus. This is usually after the rash goes away.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child's mouth and throat are swollen.
  • Your child is wheezing or has trouble breathing.
  • Your child has chest pain or his or her heart is beating faster than usual.
  • Your child feels like he or she is going to faint.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's face is red or swollen.
  • Your child has hives that spread over his or her body.
  • Your child feels weak or dizzy.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child has increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.
  • You have questions or concerns about the chickenpox vaccine.

Apply a warm compress

to your child's injection area as directed to decrease pain and swelling.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Learn more about Chickenpox Vaccine for Children (Ambulatory Care)

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