Chickenpox is a very common illness caused by a virus. The chickenpox vaccine offers effective protection against chickenpox for patients who have not previously had chickenpox.
What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a very common illness. It is caused by a virus and most people catch it during their childhood. If you haven’t had chickenpox as a child, you can still get it as an adult. Chickenpox is also referred to as varicella, which is the name of the virus that causes it.
Although it’s not dangerous, chickenpox can be unpleasant as it causes an itchy rash and a fever. In most cases, the symptoms clear within a week.
The virus can be dangerous for patients with an impaired immune system, new-born babies and pregnant women.
Once you have had chickenpox, you’re usually immune for life but you could develop shingles at a later point in life.
The chickenpox vaccine is not currently part of the national vaccine schedule in the UK, but it has been given routinely in a number of countries around the world.
How the vaccine works
The chickenpox vaccine offers effective protection against chickenpox.
It belongs to a group of vaccines referred to as “live” vaccines. This means, that it contains a weakened version of the virus that causes chickenpox. The vaccine causes your immune system to react to the vaccine. As a result, you’ll be immune to it if you catch the virus at a later date.
It does not protect against similar viruses, such as the herpes virus. It also doesn’t protect against shingles. In order to prevent shingles, you can get a shingles vaccination.
You need two doses to be protected and the second dose should be given at least four but no later than eight weeks after you have received your initial dose. Once you have completed the course, you won't need further boosters.
If you have been exposed to the chickenpox virus the vaccine will still prevent it if you get vaccinated within three days of exposure.
The course consists of two doses. The second dose is usually given 4-8 weeks after the first.
Once you have completed the two-dose course, you won’t need further boosters.
How it is given
An injection, usually given in the upper arm.
The vaccine can cause a range of mild side effects, such as fever, tiredness or digestion problems. In some cases, it can cause a mild chickenpox like rash.
The chickenpox vaccine is suitable for patients from the age of 9 months up to the age of 65. It is only recommended if you have not had chickenpox.
This vaccine is not suitable for pregnant women or women who are trying for a baby. The chickenpox vaccination should be administered on the same day as the MMR jab, or allow at least a 4-week gap in-between these vaccinations.
Our vaccination costs £65 per vaccination and is available with no appointment necessary following a short consultation with our pharmacist.