What Complications Can Chickenpox Cause
Most people recover from chickenpox in a week, but sometimes, serious complications can occur that may lead to hospitalization or even death. Possible complications include:
Bacterial skin infections
Certain people are more likely to have complications from chickenpox:
Infants, especially if their mothers never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
Pregnant women who have never had chickenpox
People with weak immune systems due to diseases like HIV/AIDS, medications like chemotherapy, or procedures like organ transplants
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, call your healthcare provider. You should tell your provider as quickly as possible if you get these symptoms:
- A fever that lasts longer than 4 days or goes above 102°F
- The rash becomes more red or warm and tender, and has pus
- A change in mental status, such as confusion or extreme sleepiness
- Having problems walking
- Having problems with breathing or a frequent cough
- Frequent vomiting
- Chickenpox is a common childhood illness. It is easily spread to others.
- There is a vaccine available to prevent chickenpox.
- Symptoms are usually mild in children. They may be life-threatening to adults and people of any age with weak immune systems.
- The rash of chickenpox is unique and the diagnosis can usually be made on the appearance of the rash and a history of exposure.
- Treatment helps reduce fever and itchiness of rash. Children with chickenpox should NEVER be given aspirin.
Why Is The Chickenpox Vaccination Not Part Of The Routine Childhood Immunisation Schedule
There’s a worry that introducing chickenpox vaccination for all children could increase the risk of chickenpox and shingles in adults.
While chickenpox during childhood is unpleasant, the vast majority of children recover quickly and easily.
In adults, chickenpox is more severe and the risk of complications increases with age.
If a childhood chickenpox vaccination programme was introduced, people would not catch chickenpox as children because the infection would no longer circulate in areas where the majority of children had been vaccinated.
This would leave unvaccinated children susceptible to contracting chickenpox as adults, when they’re more likely to develop a more severe infection or a secondary complication, or in pregnancy, when there’s a risk of the infection harming the baby.
We could also see a significant increase in cases of shingles in adults.
When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. This can then reactivate at a later date and cause shingles.
Being exposed to chickenpox as an adult boosts your immunity to shingles.
If you vaccinate children against chickenpox, you lose this natural boosting, so immunity in adults will drop and more shingles cases will occur.
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How Does The Chickenpox Vaccine Work And What Are Its Benefits
In the US, we have two vaccines that protect against chickenpox:
, which contains only the chickenpox vaccine and can be given to anyone over the age of 12 months
, also known as the MMRV vaccine, which contains vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox , and can be given to anyone 12 months to 12 years old
Both vaccines contain a live but weakened version of the chickenpox virus, which ensures that your body will have a strong protective response if it ever encounters the virus out in the real world. Thats a good thing! Since the virus is weakened, it isnt strong enough to cause the actual chickenpox disease. Thats great, too! Full vaccination typically provides protection for a lifetime and gives you a 95% chance of never getting the disease.
What Are The Benefits Of Chickenpox Vaccine
The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect against chickenpox and its complications. When you get your child immunized, you help protect others as well.
Although rare, some people may get chickenpox even after being immunized. The illness will be much milder than if they had not been immunized.
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Persons With Chronic Diseases
Asplenia or hyposplenia
Susceptible hyposplenic or asplenic individuals should receive 2 doses of univalent varicella vaccine, at least 3 months apart.
Chronic renal disease and patients on dialysis
Varicella vaccine is recommended for susceptible individuals with chronic renal disease or undergoing dialysis. Two doses of univalent varicella vaccine may be given, at least 3 months apart.
People with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders or demyelinating disorders, including multiple sclerosis should receive all routinely recommended immunizations, including varicella-containing vaccine.
Chronic lung disease
Varicella immunization should be a priority for people with cystic fibrosis because they are at increased risk of complications from varicella infection, which may cause a transient worsening of lung function. Two doses of univalent varicella vaccine may be given, at least 3 months apart.
Chronic inflammatory diseases
Individuals with autoimmune disease not treated with immunosuppressive drugs are not considered significantly immunocompromised and should receive varicella immunization following consultation with their physician. Some rheumatic disease modifying agents such as hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, or auranofin are not considered immunosuppressive, for the purposes of live vaccine administration.
Conditions requiring chronic salicylate therapy
Who Should Not Have The Chickenpox Vaccine
- Babies less than 1 year old.
- People with weak immune systems and/or people who are taking drugs to suppress their immune system.
- Those who are pregnant. The chickenpox vaccine contains a very weak form of the virus and such vaccines are generally not recommended in pregnancy because of concern that the vaccine may be passed to the fetus. However there has been no harm to the babies born to mothers who got this vaccine during pregnancy.
- People who have had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine should not get it again unless seen by a specialist and vaccinated in a special clinic that can control serious reactions.
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If I Want The Chickenpox Vaccine For My Child Can I Get It Free On The Nhs
Chickenpox vaccinations are provided free on the NHS where there’s a clinical need, such as for healthy people who are not immune to chickenpox and are in close contact with someone who has a weakened immune system.
This is to reduce the risk of the person with a weakened immune system catching chickenpox and then developing serious chickenpox complications.
Examples of children who’d probably be eligible for a chickenpox jab on the NHS include the brothers and sisters of a child with leukaemia, or a child whose parent is undergoing chemotherapy.
You cannot get the chickenpox vaccine free on the NHS if you simply want to prevent your child catching chickenpox and there are no other associated health risks.
A number of private travel clinics offer chickenpox vaccinations.
How Safe Is The Chickenpox Vaccine
It is very safe.
- There may be some redness, swelling, itching or pain where the needle went into the arm or leg, usually 5-23 days after vaccination. This is not dangerous and will only last a day or two.
- Some people may have a fever 5-12 days after vaccination. Parents should NOT give their child ibuprofen or acetaminophen before or shortly after vaccination since it could have an impact on how well the vaccine works. Wait at least 6 hours post-vaccination for pain or fever relief.
- A few people will get a very mild case of a chickenpox-like rash 1 or 2 weeks after they get the vaccine.
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One Of The Worlds Best Drug Hunters Went After Alzheimers Heres How He Lost
Gershon was not involved in the research, but she wrote a on it that the journal published in conjunction with the study. That the varicella vaccine prevents not only varicella but zoster as well is an exciting dual benefit from the varicella vaccine, further improving the health of children by immunization, she wrote. Herpes zoster is the proper name for shingles.
The study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mined the medical records of more than 6 million children to try to tease out an answer of whether the varicella vaccine would protect against shingles, or potentially increase the risk of developing the painful condition.
Shingles is a delayed complication of varicella infection. The virus hides in the body of people who have had chickenpox. Normally the immune system keeps it in check. But the virus can reactivate, causing painful rashes that can lead to long-term nerve pain. It is estimated that about one-third of people who had chickenpox will go on to have at least one bout of shingles.
While the condition is more common in older adults whose immune systems are waning, children too can develop shingles.
The varicella vaccine is made with a live but weakened varicella virus, which can also lie dormant and later reactivate to cause shingles.
Shingles Vaccination What You Should Know:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends shingles vaccine for people 60 years of age and older. This is a one-time vaccination to prevent shingles. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.
Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember getting the disease.
Your risk for getting shingles begins to rise around age 50. However, shingles vaccine is only recommended for persons age 60 and older because the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine have only been studied in this age group.
Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.
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Childcare And School Chickenpox Vaccine Requirements
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have state laws that require children entering childcare or public schools to have certain vaccinations. There is no federal law that requires this.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all states require children entering childcare and students starting school, college, and other postsecondary educational institutions have
- age-appropriate chickenpox vaccination
- preschool-age children : 1 dose
- school-age children, adolescents, adults: 2 doses
Students in school settings have a higher chance of spreading chickenpox because they are constantly in close contact with each other.
Chickenpox vaccine prevents the disease and outbreaks in childcare settings and schools. This leads to
- less illness and less school time missed by students, and
- less chance of exposing people who cannot get vaccinated.
For the 2011 to 2012 school year, 36 states and DC require children to receive two doses of chickenpox vaccine or have other evidence of immunity against chickenpox before starting school.
For more information, see State Vaccination Requirements.
Why Is The Chickenpox Vaccine Important
Chickenpox is very contagious it spreads easily from person to person. And while its usually mild, it can cause serious complications like pneumonia . Certain people like infants, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at increased risk for complications.
The chickenpox virus can also cause shingles later in life. Shingles is a disease that causes a painful skin rash and can affect the nervous system. Children who get the chickenpox vaccine may have a lower risk of developing shingles later on and those who do get shingles often have a milder case than someone who has had chickenpox.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent chickenpox. And when enough people get vaccinated against chickenpox, the entire community is less likely to get it. So when you and your family get vaccinated, you help keep yourselves and your community healthy.
Chickenpox is caused by a virus. Symptoms of chickenpox include:
- A red, itchy skin rash with blisters
- Not feeling hungry
Chickenpox usually spreads when a person touches chickenpox or shingles blisters or if they breathe in the virus. You can breathe in the virus after someone with chickenpox or shingles scratches their blisters, which releases the virus into the air.
Its also possible to get chickenpox from breathing in tiny droplets from people who have it that get into the air after they breathe or talk. Learn more about chickenpox.
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About The Chickenpox Vaccine
Also called the varicella vaccinesince chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virusthe vaccine for chickenpox is one of the most common given to children today. Made from a live but weakened, or attenuated, virus, the varicella vaccination helps protect kids and adults from contracting chickenpox for life.
Chickenpox itself is highly contagious and is easily spread from person to person. While its generally mild, chickenpox can sometimes cause serious complications like pneumonia . In addition, infants, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women can be at increased risk for these types of complications.
A common question from parents to their health care is Is there a vaccine for chickenpox. In fact, getting the varicella vaccination is the best and most efficient way to prevent chickenpox. And not only does the chickenpox vaccine protect you against the disease, the community as a whole is less likely to get it.
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about chickenpox.
Who Should Be Vaccinated Against Chickenpox
The chickenpox vaccine is given in 2 doses. The first dose is given when your child is 12 months to 15 months old. The second is given when he or she is between 4 and 6 years of age. It can also be given to older children and adults at any time. Anyone who has not had chickenpox should get the vaccine. It is especially important for:
- Health care or daycare workers.
- Military personnel.
- Inmates and staff of correctional institutions.
- Women of childbearing age who are not pregnant .
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Who Needs Chickenpox Vaccine
Children under age 13 years should get two doses
- First dose at age 12 through 15 months
- Second dose at age 4 through 6 years
The second dose may be given at an earlier age if it is given at least 3 months after the first dose.
People 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine should get two doses, at least 28 days apart. Chickenpox vaccination is especially important for:
- Healthcare professionals
Also, see Getting Vaccinated After You Are Exposed to Chickenpox.
Why Do People Need A Chickenpox Vaccine
Most cases of chickenpox are relatively mild and run their course in five to 10 days. But it can be very serious, even life-threatening, in a small percentage of people. Before the varicella vaccine was licensed in the U.S. in 1995, there were approximately 100 deaths and more than 11,000 hospitalizations a year from chickenpox.
The risk of serious, life-threatening complications is greatest among infants, elderly adults, and people with weakened immune systems. But anyone can develop serious complications and there is no way to predict who will.
There’s another reason for getting a shot for chickenpox. The illness is highly contagious and without the vaccine, it can be spread by direct contact or through the air by sneezing or coughing. Also, someone can get it by coming in contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters. For that reason, children with chickenpox need to be kept out of school or day care for about a week or more until all blisters have dried and crusted over. The illness causes an itchy rash that usually forms between 200 and 500 blisters over the entire body, headaches, coughing, and fussiness. So even if the illness is mild, it still means five to 10 days of being uncomfortable.
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If We Immunize Children With The Varicella Vaccine Won’t They Be More Likely To Get Chickenpox As Adults
Chickenpox is much more likely to cause severe disease in adults than in children. Adults are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized when they have chickenpox than are children. Therefore, one thing that you would never want the vaccine to do is shift the disease from childhood to adulthood. However, for a number of reasons, this is unlikely to happen:
- Several studies have shown that immunity to chickenpox lasts at least 20 years and is probably life-long.
- The varicella vaccine is made in a manner similar to the rubella vaccine. We immunize little girls with the rubella vaccine to protect them from catching rubella when they become pregnant as adults an event that occurs 20, 30, or even 40 years later. And it works. The incidence of birth defects from rubella has decreased from as high as 20,000 cases per year to fewer than five cases per year.
- Measles vaccine, also made in a similar way, has been successfully used for more than 40 years without seeing a similar shift in age of disease.
Therefore, fading immunity, and a consequent shift of chickenpox infections from childhood to adulthood, is extremely unlikely to occur.
Reasons For Chickenpox Immunisation
Immunisation can prevent serious medical complications. For children who have not had chickenpox, the vaccine can help protect them against serious complications associated with chickenpox and protect them from developing shingles later in life. Immunised children who get chickenpox generally have a much milder form of the disease. They have fewer skin lesions, a lower fever and recover more quickly. Research shows that two doses of chickenpox vaccine in children provides increased protection and reduces the risk of chickenpox occurring at a later time. The government funds one free dose of a chickenpox-containing vaccine and a parent can purchase a second dose, on prescription. Immunisation against chickenpox is provided free of charge to children under the National Immunisation Program Schedule. The dose is a combined vaccine containing protection against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella given at 18 months of age. In Victoria, immunisation against chickenpox is free for:
- children at 18 months — immunisation against chickenpox is given as the combination MMRV vaccine. Children who have had chickenpox should still receive the combination vaccine
- young people up to and including 19 years — free catch-up vaccines are available for all young people who have not been fully immunised.
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