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Chickenpox Vaccine

Chickenpox Vaccine

Alternate Names

  • varicella vaccine


The chickenpox vaccine is given to prevent varicella (chickenpox) in children and adults.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the chickenpox vaccine be given in two doses. The first dose is for children age 12 to 18 months, and the second at age 4-6 years.
The vaccine is now combined with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines as MMRV. Older children or young adults, if they have not been vaccinated previously and have not had chickenpox disease, should receive two doses of the vaccine given 4 to 8 weeks apart.
Many schools, day care centers, and colleges require the vaccine or a report of a history of chickenpox before enrollment. Varicella vaccine is especially recommended for anyone in certain high-risk groups if they have not already had chickenpox.
These high-risk groups include:
  • people who live or work where exposure to chickenpox is likely, such as teachers of young children, day care employees, and residents and staff in institutional settings
  • people who live or work where outbreaks of chickenpox can occur, such as college students, prison inmates and staff, and military staff
  • nonpregnant women of childbearing age
  • teens and adults living in households with children, since the children may pass chickenpox to them
Most people in the following categories should not receive the chickenpox vaccine:
  • people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have HIV or cancer or who take medicines such as steroids or chemotherapy. A person with an immune deficiency should check with his or her healthcare professional for details, because new research findings emerge frequently.
  • people who are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • pregnant women
  • people who are currently ill

How is the procedure performed?

The chickenpox vaccine is given by an injection into the muscle of the upper thigh or arm. This vaccination may be given at the same time as other vaccinations but in a different spot on the body.


Vaccine information sheets, US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program, [hyperLink url="" linkTitle=""][/hyperLink]

The Chicken Pox Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know, American Academy of Pediatrics, [hyperLink url="" linkTitle=""][/hyperLink]

Prevention of varicella: updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), MMWR 1999;48(RR-06):1-5.

Prevention of varicella: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), MMWR 1996;45(RR-11):1-43.

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