What you need to know about chickenpox?
Chickenpox (also called varicella) is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It makes you have blister-like itchy rash that occurs initially on your chest, back, and face, and then your whole body afterwards. Fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache, are likewise other classic symptoms of this disease.
Chickenpox can also lead to skin infections, pneumonia
, inflammation of the blood vessels, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, and infections of the bloodstream, bone, or joints. Furthermore, shingles (herpes zoster
) can be found years later in some people who have already had chickenpox.
Infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system, may have more severe symptoms and may be at higher risk for serious complications.
Chickenpox transmitted through airborne droplets of skin lesions containing the virus by inhalation or direct contact. Up to 90% of susceptible close contacts, especially in people who have never had the disease or never been vaccinated, will become infected. Therefore, getting the chickenpox vaccine is recommended for everyone. Most people who are vaccinated with 2 doses of chickenpox vaccine will be guarded for life.
What is the chickenpox vaccine?
The chickenpox vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine which contains a small amount of weakened varicella-zoster virus. Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are very effective at preventing the disease, and can prevent almost all cases of severe illness.
Some people who have been vaccinated can still get chickenpox. However, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer or no blisters, low or no fever, and are sick for a shorter period of time than people who are not vaccinated.
Who needs the chickenpox vaccine?
Children, adolescents, and adults who have never had chickenpox and were never vaccinated, should get the chickenpox vaccine.
- Children under age 13 years need 2 doses:
- First dose: 12 through 15 months of age
- Second dose: 18 months of age through 4 years of age
- People 13 years of age and older need 2 doses at least 28 days apart.
The chickenpox vaccine can be given at any time of the year. It may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Also, children between 12 months and 12 years of age might receive the chickenpox vaccine together with MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in a single shot, known as MMRV vaccine.
Who should not get the chickenpox vaccine?
You should not get the chickenpox vaccine if you:
- Are pregnant or plan to get pregnant within the next 3 months.
- Have a weak immune system, active TB (tuberculosis) that is not being treated, or an illness with a fever.
- Are taking any drugs to suppress your immune system.
- Recently had a transfusion or were given other blood products.
What are the possible side effects of the chickenpox vaccine?
- Common side effects
- • Pain, redness, swelling, or other reaction where the injection was given
- • Fever (within 5-12 days after vaccination)
- Serious side effects
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