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Varicella Vaccine (Chickenpox Vaccine)

What is the Varicella Vaccine?

The Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine provides protection against the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox.  For most children, chickenpox is a mild illness that gets better on its own.  They can have high fevers and the spots can be very itchy and lead to scarring.  However, some children can develop more serious complications and need to attend the GP/Hospital. 

Vaccine efficacy is estimated to be 70-90% against infection and 90-100% against moderate or severe disease. Vaccine efficacy is lower (~75%) in those aged >13 years. Immunity in most appears to be long lasting, probably lifelong.

What age group can Varicella Vaccine be given to?

Varicella Vaccine can be given to non-immune individuals from 12 months and older. The is no upper age limit. The vaccine is also recommended in non-immune women who are considering becoming pregnant. Chickenpox in pregnancy can cause a range of serious birth defects as well as severe disease in the baby when born. If a woman is unsure if they have had the chickenpox before, a simple blood test can be taken to confirm if they are immune. 

What is the vaccine dose and site?

The vaccine dose is 0.5ml and it is given into either the mid/upper thigh or the upper arm, depending on the persons age.

What is the schedule?

Two does, at least 4 weeks apart, are recommended for non-immune individuals.

Can the vaccine be given at or around the same time?

The vaccine is a live vaccine and therefore can be administered the same time as inactive vaccines.  However, it should be given 1 month after/before the MMR vaccine.

Are there any reasons not to give the Vaccine ?

Contraindications  

  1. Anaphylaxis to any of the vaccine constituents
  2. Immunosupression
  3. Pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following either dose of varicella vaccine.

Precaustions

  • Acute illness with fever, defer until after recovery.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effect of the chickenpox vaccine is soreness and redness around the site of the injection.  This side effect develops in around one in five children and one in four teenagers and adults.

A mild rash may occur in one in ten children and one in twenty adults.

Serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction), are rare.  They occur in less than one in 100,000 vaccination cases.

Though the varicella vaccine is not part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule, it is in other countries, such as the US and Germany.

Millions of doses of the vaccine have been given and there is no evidence of any increased risk of developing a long-term health condition as a result of the vaccination.

Can the varicella vaccination be administered during pregnancy?

No, it is not safe to give the vaccine during pregnancy as it is a live vaccine.  Pregnancy should be avoided for at least 1 month following varicella vaccination.

Cost of Vaccines

160.00 (Two Shots)



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