Varicella (chicken pox) is a common childhood disease that can be serious. It spreads when germs pass from an infected person to the nose or throat of others.
Chicken pox causes a rash, itching, tiredness and fever. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage or death. A person who has had chicken pox can develop zoster (shingles) years later. Shingles causes a painful skin rash.
About the Vaccine
Chicken pox vaccine is the best way to protect against chicken pox. About 70 to 90 percent of people who get the vaccine are protected. If vaccinated children do get chicken pox, it is usually very mild. They have fewer spots, lower fever, and recover more quickly. Vaccinated children who get this milder form of chicken pox can still spread the disease to others who are not protected.
Who Should Get Chicken Pox Vaccine?
- Children between 12 and 18 months of age: Most children in this age group should have one dose of chicken pox vaccine.
- Children between 19 months and their 13th birthday: All children who have not had chicken pox or the vaccine should be vaccinated before their 13th birthday. Many doctors will give the vaccine at 11 or 12 years of age to children in need. However, the vaccine may be given any time between 19 months and 12 years. Your doctor or clinic can tell you whether your child should be vaccinated.
- People 13 and older: Some people 13 or older who have not had chicken pox or the vaccine should get two doses of the vaccine four to eight weeks apart. Ask your doctor for details.