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Chickenpox vaccine

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As the name suggests, chicken pox vaccine is designed to protect against chicken pox, which is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Chicken pox causes painful and itchy blisters all over the body. It also leads to fever and fatigue, making the child very irritable. The itchiness forces the child to scratch the boils, which may lead to a secondary infection or even permanent scars.

Ideally, two doses of vaccines are administered to children, adolescents and adults thatoffer protection against chicken pox and its associated symptoms.

How does chickenpox vaccine work?

The chicken pox vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine, in which the varicella virus has been weakened to make it incapable ofcausing the disease. It only replicates inside the body to trigger an immune response. The antibodies secreted by your immune cells will protect you from an external infection of chicken pox virus.

Who needs chicken pox vaccine?

All children below 13 years of age must receive the vaccine. Those above 13 years,including adolescents and adults must also get the vaccine, if they haven’t been vaccinated before and haven’t been infected before.

Women who are planning for pregnancy should wait at least a month after taking the vaccine shot.

Who should not get chicken pox vaccine?

  • Those who had chicken pox before do not need the vaccine.
  • It is not recommended to those who had encountered allergic response to the vaccine or have neomycin allergy
  • Chicken pox vaccine is not administered to pregnant women
  • The vaccine would be postponed,when you are seriously ill with fever, cold, flu, or suffering from other infections.
  • It is not given to HIV infected patients or those with weak immune system like tuberculosis
  • If you are taking doses of steroids or other medicines that might interact with the vaccine
  • You may not be the right candidate for receiving the vaccine, if you had an organ transplant
  • Those undergoing cancer treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or X-rays.

What is the dosing of the vaccine?

Two doses are required for the vaccine to be effective.

For children:

The first dose is administered when he/she is between 12-15 months of age. The second dose may be given at least after 3 months of the first dose or after reaching 4-6 years of age.

For above 13 years:

People above 13 years of age must be vaccinated with 2 shots. The second shot must be administered a month after the first vaccine.

Your doctor might suggest a combination vaccine known as MMRV which contains vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, instead of the booster doses of chicken pox vaccine.  

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How is the vaccine administered?

The vaccine is given subcutaneously i.e. as a shot under your skin and usually in the upper arm.  

Are there any side effects of the vaccine?

Common side effects of the vaccine are fever, pain, swelling and redness at the site of the injection. Some individuals might develop a skin rash after some time. The unwanted side effects are very rare. It includes febrile seizures (jerks and chills induced by fever), pneumonia and allergic reaction.

How effective is chicken pox vaccine?

Long term duration of the vaccine for immunity is still unknown; nonetheless its effectiveness, according to doctors is 90%. As per statistics, about 2% of vaccinated children can develop a very mild chickenpox in the long run. In any case, even if a vaccinated person gets a varicella infection in the future, it would be very mild.

Along with chicken pox, the vaccine also helps protect the child against another disease called shingles to some extent. Shingles appearafter the dormant varicella virus living in the central nervous system becomes active. It leads to very painful and disfiguring blisters. Thus, it is not a bad idea to protect your child with the help of chickenpox vaccine.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: March 21, 2015

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