Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine

The currently used Varicella vaccines are live attenuated cultures based on the Oka strain of  Varicella-Zoster Virus. The varicella vaccine protects against Chickenpox.

Recommended dosage and intervals

Children under 13 years of age should get two doses:

  •  First dose at 12 to 15 months of age
  • A second dose at 4 to 6 years of age (second dose can be given before 4 years also if it is given at least 3 months after the first dose).

Why should you give Chickenpox vaccine to your child?

Chickenpox is an extremely contagious disease and  thus, likely to be experienced by almost every child in the world. Infants born to immune mothers are protected by passive immunity only during their first few months of life. Lifelong immunity is gained by natural infection in immunocompetent children. This uncomfortable childhood  disease can get serious in some children.

Treatment of Chickenpox is not cost-effective. High vaccination coverage is the most effective way to control the spread of Chickenpox in children and Herpes in elderly people. Though Varicella is an optional vaccine in India, not recommended in routine immunization program. The cases of chickenpox have dropped significantly after the Varicella vaccine was administered to large numbers of children worldwide.  They could go up again if children are not vaccinated. Healthy adults can also contract Chickenpox from their non-vaccinated children.

It is possible to get Chickenpox even after vaccination, but the symptoms are usually milder with fewer blisters and lower grade fever.

Adults who need Chickenpox vaccine:

The vaccine can be important for these specific adults if they have never got a Chickenpox disease in childhood nor they were vaccinated with Varicella.

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Teachers
  • Child care staff
  • Nursing staff
  • Doctors
  • Non pregnant women of childbearing age
  • College students
  • Adolescents and adults living with young children
  • International travellers

Persons who should avoid the chickenpox vaccine:

  • Allergic to a previous dose of vaccine
  • Sick moderately or severely should wait until recovery before vaccination
  • Pregnant women until delivery (women should not get pregnant for 1 month after getting the Chicken pox vaccine)
  • Sick with HIV/AIDS or any other disease that affects the immune system
  • Being treated with immunosuppressive drugs such as steroids
  • Sick with cancer and getting treated with drugs or radiation
  • Who have undergone blood transfusion

Side effects of Chickenpox vaccine

Some local swelling and redness at the site of injection can occur during the first hours following vaccination. In very few cases a mild chickenpox disease with rash within 4 weeks of vaccination can occur. The chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective in preventing chickenpox. Serious side effects are very rare.

Rare life threatening reaction needs immediate medical attention. If child show signs of difficulty in breathing, extreme weakness, swelling of lips and severe rashes right after the vaccination, please take him/her to doctor immediately.

Marketed Chickenpox Products

Here is the list of WHO pre-qualified vaccine products available in market. Click on name of the product to know more.