Varicella (chickenpox) is a common childhood disease which can be serious. It spreads when germs pass from an infected person to the nose or throat of others.
Chickenpox causes a rash, itching, tiredness and fever. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, or death.
A person who has had chickenpox can develop zoster (shingles) years later. Shingles causes a painful skin rash.
Chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect against chickenpox. About 70 to 90% of people who get the vaccine are protected from chickenpox.
If vaccinated children do get chickenpox, it is usually very mild. They have fewer spots, lower fever, and recover more quickly.
Vaccinated children who get this milder form of chicken pox can still spread the disease to others who are not protected.
Who Should Get the Chickenpox Vaccine?
Children between 12 and 18 months of age: Most children in this age group should have one dose of chickenpox vaccine.
Children between 19 months and their 13th birthday: All children who have not had chickenpox or gotten the chickenpox vaccine should be vaccinated before their 13th birthday. Many doctors will give the vaccine at 11 or 12 years of age to children in need. However, the vaccine may be given any time between 19 months and 12 years. Your doctor or clinic can tell you whether your child should be vaccinated. Children over age 13 will need a booster dose.
For more information, visit your local health department or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona Department of Health.