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Vaccines and Immunizations

Varicella

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus, which causes fever and an itchy rash. The rash typically consists of 200–500 blister-like lesions usually on the face, scalp, and trunk.

Chickenpox can be spread from an infected person who sneezes, coughs or shares food or drink, even before the infected person has any symptoms. Adolescents and adults who contract chickenpox are more at risk of severe symptoms than are young children. Most people will get chickenpox at some point in their lives unless they’ve received the vaccine.

What is the chickenpox vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine is a 2-dose series that can protect nearly everyone from getting chickenpox. The first dose should be given between ages 12–18 months. The second dose should be given between ages 4–6.

Older children and adults should get two shots as well, with the second shot given at least 28 days after the first shot.

To learn more about the chickenpox vaccine from the CDC, download this PDF or visit the CDC website.

What are the side effects of the chickenpox vaccine?

Mild-to-moderate side effects:

Severe side effects, although rare, may include serious allergic reactions. Symptoms include:

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any unexpected or worsening reactions after receiving a vaccine.

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site

  • Mild rash

  • Mild-to-moderate fever

  • Seizure caused by fever

  • Pneumonia

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Wheezing

  • Hives

  • Paleness

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Dizziness

 

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