Varicella Vaccine

(Chickenpox Vaccine)

What Is Varicella?

Varicella , commonly called chickenpox, is a highly contagious infection. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). It produces an itchy rash. It can cause serious complications, especially in adults, newborns, or people with weak immune systems. VZV spreads from person to person by:
  • Airborne droplets of moisture that contain the virus
  • Direct contact with fluid from a varicella rash
It is most contagious just after the rash has broken out. It is also contagious 1-2 days before the rash erupts and until all of the blisters have crusted.Symptoms include:
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • A rash of small, flat, red spots that become raised to form round, itchy, fluid-filled blisters
It takes about 10-21 days to develop varicella after contact with an infected person. The illness lasts 5-10 days. The rash usually develops on the face and trunk.Treatment generally focuses on reducing itchiness, such as using anti-itch cream. Antibiotics may be used for rashes that become infected. Antiviral drugs might be considered for some patients.Varicella can lead to scarring, pneumonia, and death in severe cases.

What Is the Varicella Vaccine?

Varicella vaccine is a live virus vaccine that is given by injection. The varicella vaccine can also be given in a combination vaccine called the MMRV. This protects against measles , mumps , rubella , and varicella .

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

The vaccine is recommended for most children aged 12-15 months. The second dose is given between ages 4-6 years.The CDC recommends the following schedule for those who have not been vaccinated:
  • Up to age 13 years—2 doses, with 3 months between the first and second dose
  • 13 years and above—2 doses, with a minimum of 4 weeks between the first and second dose
If you are an adult who has not been fully vaccinated and have never had chickenpox, it is recommended that you get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor. If you have certain conditions, you will not be able to get the vaccine.If you or your child has not been vaccinated but has been exposed to chickenpox, getting vaccinated within three days can help reduce the virus or offer protection from the infection.

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