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Varicella Vaccine

Expert Interview: Dr. Neuzil on the Varicella Vaccine

Facts about chickenpox (varicella): About 12,000 people are hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States; about 100 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of chicken pox.

Who should get chickenpox vaccine and when:

  • Children should get 1 dose of chickenpox vaccine between 12 and 18 months of age, or at any age after that if they have never had chickenpox. People who do not get the vaccine until 13 years or older should get 2 doses, 4-8 weeks apart.

What are the risks from chickenpox vaccine?

The risk of chickenpox vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Mild problems such as soreness or swelling on sight occur in 1 out of 5 children and 1 out of 3 adolescents and adults. Other problems associated with chickenpox vaccine are very rare.

In the event of a moderate or severe reaction, physicians should ascertain the date and time of the reaction as well as when the vaccination was administered. Physicians should contact the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967 or on the web.

Additional information is available from the CDC on Varicella.

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