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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Chickenpox Vaccine Cuts Deaths

Universal Childhood Vaccination Sharply Lowers Chickenpox Deaths

Chickenpox Vaccination Guidelines

The chickenpox vaccine is recommended for all healthy children, teens, and adults who have not had chickenpox. Here's a look at chickenpox vaccine recommendations:

  • Babies can receive the vaccine along with some of the other routine immunizations that are given between 12 months and 18 months.
  • Children aged 19 months through 12 years can receive the vaccine at any time.
  • Healthy adolescents and young adults aged 13 and older who are susceptible to the infection should receive two doses of the vaccine four to eight weeks apart.
  • Adults who have not had chickenpox should also receive two doses of vaccine. The vaccine is especially recommended for the following adults:
    • People who work in settings where they are likely to come in contact with people with chickenpox (for example, health care workers, child care workers, students in group living situations). Sometimes employers require proof of chickenpox immunity or vaccination.
    • Nonpregnant women who can have children. Women who have not had chickenpox or the vaccine are at risk for complications of chickenpox during pregnancy.
    • Family members of people with impaired immune systems. This protects them from having chickenpox and thus protects the family member with the impaired immune system.
    • People who travel outside the United States. In some countries (especially tropical countries), chickenpox is a disease of adults.

Who Should Avoid the Vaccine?

Older children, teens, and adults can receive the vaccine at any time. Many states now require proof that children entering day care and school have either had chickenpox or have been vaccinated to prevent the virus.

A person who has been exposed to someone with chickenpox also can have the vaccine to prevent or decrease the severity of chickenpox. It is recommended that the vaccine be given within three days after exposure. Chickenpox vaccine is not recommended for:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women need to wait three months after receiving the chickenpox vaccine before they become pregnant.
  • Some people with impaired immune systems.
  • People who are taking high doses of corticosteroids by mouth. These medications weaken the immune system and may cause problems with this type of vaccination. People who are taking low doses of steroids or taking the medications by inhalation (such as people with asthma) may be able to take the chickenpox vaccine.
  • People with serious long-term illnesses, such as children with leukemia.
  • People who are allergic to the antibiotic neomycin. The chickenpox vaccine contains a small amount of neomycin.
  • People who have recently received an injection of immune globulin. This medication increases the body's ability to fight infection. People need to wait for three to six months after receiving immune globulin before receiving the chickenpox vaccine.

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