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Vaccines

Varicella (Chicken Pox) Vaccine

Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine

What is it?

Chickenpox is transmitted through personal contact or droplet spread. The incubation period is between one and three weeks. The chances of catching Chickenpox from a household contact can be as high as 90%. The infection is most common in children below the age of ten, in whom it usually causes mild disease. It can be more serious in adults, pregnant women, those who are immune suppressed and smokers. Symptoms include: fever, tiredness and a rash.

The Varicella vaccine protects against Chickenpox. It is not a routinely offered vaccination, but some healthcare workers, such as nurses and doctors, need protection if they are working with people vulnerable to infection. A blood test is required pre-vaccination to check you are not already immune to varicella. Blood test cost £65.

 

Vaccine Schedule

Two doses 4 weeks apart

Booster – not required after a 2 dose course.

Cost Per Dose
£90.00

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Note: Varicella vaccine is a live immunisation. If you require other live vaccinations such as Shingles vaccine (Zostavax),  Yellow Fever or a TB vaccine(BCG) then Varicella vaccine can be given at the same time as other live vaccines. Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) vaccine must be given on the same day or separated by 4 weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

I never had chickenpox as a child, I now have a young family and would like the vaccine. Is this possible?

Chickenpox is very common and if you were raised in the UK the chances are you are probably already immune. 90% of adults raised in the UK are immune. You can have a blood test to check your immunity for chickenpox. If you are not immune then you can have the vaccine.

I have been in contact with someone who has had chickenpox recently and I am not immune. Can I have the vaccine?

Chickenpox can incubate for up to 21 days. We recommend you speak to your GP for further advice. You would need a blood test to check you are not already immune and may need an additional vaccine called VZIG ( Varicella immunoglobulin) if you are in an at risk group that would be more at risk of serious infection from chickenpox.

I am planning to get pregnant soon. How long should I wait after having a chickenpox vaccine?

It is recommended that you should avoid pregnancy for 1 month after the final dose of chickenpox vaccine.

I am currently breast-feeding. Can I have the vaccine?

Yes, studies have shown that the vaccine virus is not transferred to the infant through breast milk and therefore breast-feeding women can be vaccinated

Are there any side effects from the chickenpox vaccine?

Varicella vaccines are well tolerated. The most common reported side effects are reactions at the injection site (pain, redness and rash). Generalised symptoms, such as fever and rash, can also occur but are not so common. Up to 10% of adults and 5% of children develop a vaccine-associated rash, either localised at the injection site or generalised, within one month of immunisation.If you do develop a rash you should avoid contact with anyone who has not had chickenpox or who is immunosuppressed or non immune pregnant women until the rash has crusted over.

How effective is the vaccine?

Two doses of vaccination provides about 98% protection in children and about 75% protection in adolescents and adults. Those who have had the chickenpox vaccine do tend to get less symptoms if they do still get a case of chickenpox.

My employer has asked me to provide proof that I have had chickenpox. Can you help?

Yes. You need to have a blood test to check you are not already immune. If this test is negative then you need 2 doses of vaccine 4 weeks apart.

References:

Department of Health Green Book

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