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Chickenpox Vaccine for Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is the chickenpox vaccine?
The chickenpox vaccine is an injection given to your child to protect him or her 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 child's skin, lungs, and brain. The chickenpox vaccine may be given by itself or combined with other vaccines.
Who should get the chickenpox vaccine?
Your child should receive 2 chickenpox vaccines. 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 if at least 3 months have passed since the first dose. There must be at least 3 months between doses for children younger than 13 years old. There must be at least 4 weeks between doses for children 13 years or older.
Who should not get the chickenpox vaccine?
Your child should not get the chickenpox vaccine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to neomycin, gelatin, or a previous chickenpox vaccine.
Who should wait to get the chickenpox vaccine?
- Any child who is sick or has a fever should wait until he or she feels better to get the vaccine.
- Any child who takes antiviral medicine should stop the medicine and wait at least 1 day before getting the chickenpox vaccine. Examples of antiviral medicines include acyclovir and valacyclovir.
- Any child who gets a smallpox vaccine should wait at least 4 weeks before getting the chickenpox vaccine.
- Ask your child's healthcare provider if he or she should get the chickenpox vaccine if:
- Your child is being treated with medicines that weaken the immune system, such as steroids.
- Your child has a family member with a history of an immune system problem.
- Your child has a disease that weakens the immune system, such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS.
- Your child has received a blood transfusion in the past 3 to 11 months.
- Your child has 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. 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.
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.
When should I call my child's doctor?
- 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.
- Your child has increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or the chickenpox vaccine.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.
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