Varicella Vaccine

The varicella vaccine protects children against chicken pox—a common viral illness that almost all children came down with in the past. Varicella causes the characteristic itchy, blistering rash and fever. Complications of the infection can include secondary bacterial skin and bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and encephalitis. Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, chicken pox was a major cause of missed school for children and missed workdays for their parents.

The vaccine is given between ages 12 and 18 months. It prevents chicken pox in 70 to 90 percent of children, and if a child still does get the disease after receiving the vaccine, it's usually a mild case.

Serious reactions are rare, although a child may experience soreness, fever, fatigue, and a rash, which may occur up to a month after vaccination and will go away on its own.

Immunization should be delayed if your child has more than a mild illness, has a serious allergy (more than a slight rash) to neomycin or gelatin, has received gamma globulin or a blood or plasma transfusion in the past three months, or has immune system problems.

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