The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox
(varicella), a common and very contagious childhood viral illness.
The varicella vaccine is given as a shot when kids are between 12 and 15 months
old. They get a booster shot for further protection at 4 to 6 years of age.
Kids who are older than 6 but younger than 13 who have not had chickenpox also
may get the vaccine, with the 2 doses given 3 months apart.
Kids 13 years or older who have not had either chickenpox or the vaccine need 2
vaccine doses 1 to 2 months apart.
Sometimes the chickenpox vaccine is given in combination with the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella,
in a vaccine called MMRV. Kids up to 13 years old can get this vaccine.
The chickenpox vaccine prevents severe illness in almost all kids who get it. It's
up to 85% effective in preventing mild illness. Vaccinated kids who do get chickenpox
generally have a mild case.
Possible mild effects are tenderness and redness where the shot was given, fever,
tiredness, and a varicella-like illness. There is a very small chance of an allergic
reaction with any vaccine.
A rash can happen up to 1 month after the injection. It may last for several days
but will disappear on its own without treatment. There is a very small risk of febrile seizures after vaccination.
The varicella vaccine is not recommended if your child:
Talk to your doctor about whether the vaccine is a good idea if your child:
Your doctor may decide that the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the
Pregnant women should not get the chickenpox vaccine until after they give birth.
Check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen
or ibuprofen for pain or fever
and to find out the right dose.
Call your doctor if: