Varicella (Chicken Pox) Vaccine

Varicella vaccine is a safe vaccine that protects against the viral disease commonly known as chickenpox.   It is recommended for all children under 13 years and for everyone 13 year or older who has never had chickenpox. There are 2 types of varicella vaccines approved in the USA. One type includes just the immunising agent against the varicella virus. The other type (MMRV) is a combined vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella.

There is another type of varicella vaccine for administration in persons 50-59 years of age to prevent shingles. Both types are highly effective in preventing this disease. 

The long-term duration of protection from varicella vaccine is unknown, but there are now persons vaccinated more than thirty years ago with no evidence of waning immunity, while others have become vulnerable in as few as six years. 

Since chickenpox occurs worldwide, vaccination is generally recommended for international travellers who have never been vaccinated or never had the illness.  The varicella vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

If you are unsure about your or your child's level of protection against chicken pox, see your health care provider.

What are the side effects?

Mild side effects include fever, a mild rash, and soreness or swelling where the injection was given.

What is the dosage schedule?

The single vaccine is given in two doses, the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and a second dose at age 4 to 6 years of age.  People older than 13 years should receive two doses 4 to 8 weeks apart. The MMRV vaccine is administered in one single dose.