Chicken Pox Vaccine (Varicella)

Description

Vaccination is the best protection against chicken pox and its complications. Chicken pox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. This virus remains in the organism and can be reactivated years later, causing shingles.

This vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 1 year and older who is not protected against chicken pox. People vaccinated against chicken pox are probably less likely to develop shingles. Women receiving the vaccine must avoid becoming pregnant in the month after the vaccination.

The first dose of the chicken pox vaccine is usually given to infants at the age of 18 months. This dose is included in the combined measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox vaccine (MMR-Var), which offers protection against these 4 diseases.

Immunization experts in Québec have recommended a 2nd dose of the chicken pox vaccine in order to improve protection for children, allow better control of the infection, and reduce the number of cases of the disease. This 2nd dose only protects against chicken pox. As of April 1, 2016, the dose was added to the immunization schedule and is administered to children between 4 and 6 years old, just before they begin school.

Symptoms

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, e.g. redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, e.g. cold, gastro, headache.

Chicken pox vaccine is safe. In most cases, it does not cause any reaction.

The Nature and Frequency of Known Reactions to Vaccine

Frequency Known reactions to this vaccine

Often
(less than 10% of people)

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • Blisters similar to those of chicken pox (less than 10 blisters) at the injection site or elsewhere on the body; these blisters are not very contagious and clear up quickly

What to Do after Vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Cover the blisters. If this is not possible, contacts with premature newborns and people with weakened immune system should be avoided as long as these blisters are present.

Use a medication for fever or discomfort if needed. Do not give medication containing aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to people under age 18 for 6 weeks following their vaccination.

When to Seek Medical Help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours

Last update: April 6, 2016 8:37 AM

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