About the vaccine
- Course: The course consists of two doses. The second dose is usually given 4-8 weeks after the first.
- Boosters: 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.
- Side effects: 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.
- Age restrictions: The chickenpox vaccine is suitable for patients from the age of one up to the age of 65. It is only recommended if you have not had chickenpox.
- Please note: 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.
|Doses per course||2|
|Price per course||£140|
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 usually dangerous, chickenpox can be very 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, newborn 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, such as the USA and Germany.
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 vaccine can cause redness and soreness where you have received the jab.
It is also possible that it will cause a mild rash – one in ten children and one in ten adults who receive the vaccine experience this side effect. This rash is not contagious and it should pass quickly.
The only serious known side effect is an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Allergic reactions to the chickenpox vaccine are extremely rare and believed to affect around one in a million patients who receive the vaccine.
The chickenpox vaccine is safe and has been given several million times around the world. There are no known long-term side effects.
Who can get vaccinated
The nurse or pharmacist will provide a brief consultation and ask you a few questions to check whether the vaccine is suitable for you. If you suffer from certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications you may not be able to get the vaccination or you may need to get it at a later date.
You can’t have the chickenpox vaccine if you have previously had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
The vaccine is not suitable for pregnant women or women who are trying for a baby. After receiving the vaccine, you need to use contraception for at least four weeks. The vaccine is not recommended for breastfeeding women.
If you are ill on the day of your vaccination you may need to reschedule your appointment.
Getting a flu vaccine too? The flu vaccine does not interfere with the chickenpox vaccine so you can have these at the same time or at any time interval.