What is the chickenpox vaccine?
Chicken pox is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the activation of the Varicella zoster virus. It mainly affects children between the ages of 5 and 10. The infection occurs through droplets of saliva transmitted through coughing, sneezing or talking and tends to regress in 7-10 days. Chickenpox is characterized by small skin lesions all over the body that are very itchy and can turn into blisters, then scabs and eventually fall off. The disease may cause symptoms such as fever, headache and a feeling of malaise.
Individuals who should not receive the chickenpox vaccine or should wait include:
- Individuals who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine
- Individuals who are allergic to gelatin or neomycin
- Individuals with weakened immune systems (HIV/AIDS, cancer or cancer treatments)
- Individuals who are ill at the time of their vaccine appointment
- Women who are pregnant
The chickenpox vaccine provides protection from the disease. Although contracting the disease further on is still a possibility, it is almost always milder and the recovery more rapid than for people who have not had the shots.If the body is in contact with the virus, it remains hidden in the cranial sensory ganglia and spinal cord all throughout an individual’s life. In only about 10-20% of cases does it reactivate and cause Herpes Zoster, also known as St. Anthony’s fire. Herpes Zoster is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in limited areas.
What is the chickenpox vaccine composed of?
The chickenpox vaccine is made from live, harmless viruses that are able to stimulate the body’s defense mechanism but not transmit the disease itself inside the individual. There is also a combined vaccine containing both components of MPR (measles, mumps and rubella) and MPRV (chickenpox vaccine) that can be administered in children at twelve years of age, instead of two separate vaccines.
When is it recommended to receive the chickenpox vaccine?
The varicella vaccine is recommended in newborn infants . It is administered subcutaneously and in children who have never had chickenpox. Two doses of chickenpox vaccine should be administered: the first dose in infants 12-15 months of age and the second dose in children 4-6 years of age. Young individuals 13 years of age and older (who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine) should get two doses, the second at least 28 days after the first.
What are the side effects of the chickenpox vaccine?
Following administration, only a slight pain may be felt at the injection site. Mild symptoms that may occur include the following:
- Soreness at the injection site
- Swelling of the area of injection
Like all vaccines, there is the possibility of serious problems occurring, such as severe allergic reactions. Through rare, there are such cases that may present themselves and cause symptoms in individuals such as hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These problems may occur within minutes or a few hours after the vaccination, depending on the individual’s immune system.