The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine and contains a small amount of weakened chickenpox-causing virus. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies that will help protect against the varicella zoster virus that causes chicken pox.
The vaccine is given as two separate injections, usually into the upper arm, four to eight weeks apart.
Who is at risk from chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a common childhood infection. It is usually mild and complications are rare. Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection so most only catch it once. The disease can be more severe in adults. People who have weakened immune systems (through illnesses such as HIV or treatments like chemotherapy) and pregnant women are at greater risk of serious complications from chickenpox.
The vaccine would also be recommended if you were about to start work in a radiotherapy department and had not had chickenpox before.
How effective is the chickenpox vaccine?
9 out of 10 children vaccinated with a single dose will develop immunity against chickenpox. For better immune response, it is recommended to take two doses.
The vaccination is not quite as effective after childhood. It’s estimated that three-quarters of teenagers and adults who are vaccinated will become immune to chickenpox.
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