Chickenpox (Varicella) vaccineThough the chickenpox vaccine is available it is not offered as part of the UK national immunisation schedule. The vaccine is ‘live’, containing live chickenpox (varicella zoster) virus that has been altered (attenuated) to become relatively harmless.
One dose of chickenpox vaccine is very effective (90%) for around a year, but protection then wears off rapidly. A single dose only provides 62% long-term protection whereas two doses provides 94% long-term protection.
Of the two vaccines widely available it appears that one (which is the one we use at BabyJabs) may be significantly more effective.
The vaccine can also be given to prevent chickenpox after coming into contact with someone with the disease, provided it is given within 3-5 days of exposure.
Common side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, fever and a chickenpox rash. It may rarely cause convulsions. Like many other vaccines, it probably causes occasional immune-related disorders such as erythema multiforme (a potentially life-threatening skin disorder), thrombocytopaenia (a shortage of platelets in the blood causing bleeding problems), and neuropathies such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. As the vaccine contains live, though modified, virus, it can cause attacks of chickenpox in susceptible children, particularly those with immune deficiencies. In the same way that shingles can develop later in life in someone who has had chickenpox, so shingles can also occur after vaccination; one would expect it to occur much less commonly after vaccination but, as the time lag between catching naturally occurring chickenpox and developing shingles is usually several decades, only time will tell.
It is possible to catch chickenpox from vaccinated children, though this is very rare.
To download a detailed list of all the vaccines we offer including all their ingredients please follow this link