Alternate Names : Varicella Vaccine
Doctors use the chickenpox vaccine to prevent chickenpox
in children and adults. Vaccines contain weakened or dead forms of the germs that cause certain
diseases. To fight these germs, the body's immune system creates antibodies. Antibodies
are cells that attack foreign substances in the body. A vaccine causes the body to makes
antibodies to the weakened germs in the vaccine. Some of these antibodies will stay in the
body for long periods of time. How long they remain depends on which vaccine a person
gets. If the person is later exposed to the disease, the antibodies multiply to fight it off.
is usually a childhood illness. But it can occur at any age. It is most common in children
6 to 12 years old. The illness usually lasts 4 to 5 days and causes mild symptoms.
There is a rash
with as many as 250 to 500 itchy bumps, called vesicles. Other symptoms are
and a low-grade fever.
Chicken pox can cause serious, even fatal, complications.
People who are at higher risk for these complications include:
teens and adults
children who are given aspirin
infants younger than age 1
newborns and premature babies whose mothers had chickenpox when they were born or have not had chickenpox
people with weakened immune systems
These serious complications include:
severe skin infections
scarring from the pox
which is an infection of the lungs
The chickenpox vaccine protects against both these complications and the
discomfort of mild symptoms. The vaccine can prevent chickenpox in most cases. Anyone
who gets chickenpox despite receiving the vaccine usually has only a mild case.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as CDC, is the U.S.
government agency that makes recommendations about vaccinations. The CDC
recommends that the chickenpox vaccine be given to children age 12 to 18 months , or
to older children if they have not had chickenpox. Children under the age of 13 should
be given one dose of the vaccine. Children who are at least 13 and have not had
chickenpox should receive two doses of the vaccine. The doses should be given 4 to 8 weeks apart. Many schools,
day care centers, and colleges require the vaccine or a report of a history of
Varicella vaccine is recommended for anyone in certain high-risk groups if
they have not already had chickenpox. These high-risk groups include:
people who live or work where exposure to chickenpox is likely, such as teachers
of young children, day care employees, and residents and staff in institutional settings
people who live or work where outbreaks of chickenpox can occur, such as college
students, prison inmates and staff, and military staff
nonpregnant women of childbearing age
teens and adults living in households with children, since the children may pass
chickenpox to them
A person in these high-risk groups should talk with his or her doctor about
whether he or she should get the chickenpox vaccine. Other people who should consult
with their doctors before receiving the vaccine include:
people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have
or who take medicines such as steroids or chemotherapy
people who are allergic
to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
people who are currently ill
How is the procedure performed?
The chickenpox vaccine is given by an injection into the muscle of the
upper thigh or arm. This vaccination may be given at the same time as other
vaccinations but in a different spot on the body.