Chicken Pox Vaccination
Chickenpox is a very contagious infection caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus. Most people with Chickenpox have mild symptoms and recover quickly. In rare cases, the virus can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or meningitis.
What are the symptoms of Chickenpox?
The main symptom of Chickenpox is an itchy red rash. During the illness, the rash turns into fluid-filled blisters that may burst and crust over.
People with Chickenpox may also have these symptoms:
- Feeling generally unwell
Symptoms usually start about 2 weeks after being around someone with Chickenpox, and they can continue for between 10 days and 3 weeks.
Chickenpox is more common in children, but when adults catch Chickenpox, they usually experience a more severe illness and can take longer to recover.
Who is at risk of Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus. You are most likely to catch Chickenpox if you come into contact with an infected person’s respiratory fluids — for example, when they cough or sneeze nearby. You can also catch Chickenpox by touching fluid from an infected person’s Chickenpox blister.
Chickenpox is very contagious for anyone who is not immune. If you have Chickenpox, you should stay home from the childcare, school or work to avoid spreading the infection to others while you are contagious. Chickenpox is no longer contagious once the blisters have crusted over.
Chickenpox can be especially dangerous for some groups of people, including:
- Pregnant women
- Newborn babies
- People with weakened immune systems, such as patients receiving chemotherapy
If you are in one of these groups, you should see your doctor if you have been near someone with Chickenpox — even if you have no symptoms so far. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce the chance of your becoming infected or reduce the severity of the illness if you do become infected.
How is Chickenpox diagnosed?
also ask if you’ve had recent contact with anyone who has Chickenpox and about your vaccination history.
In some cases, they may do tests on fluid from your blisters or blood tests to confirm that you have Chickenpox.
How is Chickenpox treated?
There is no specific medicine or treatment available to treat Chickenpox. Antibiotics will not help you recover because the illness is caused by a virus, not bacteria.
Most people with Chickenpox have mild symptoms and recover quickly, but Chickenpox can still be uncomfortable.
Chickenpox blisters can be very itchy, and it can be difficult to avoid scratching them — especially in the case of children. However, scratching increases the chance of blisters becoming infected and of leaving scars. Some people find it helpful to keep their fingernails short to make scratching more difficult.
You can also try to relieve your symptoms with these tips:
- Use lotions, such as calamine lotion, to reduce itching.
- Apply cool compresses to itchy blisters.
- Have lukewarm baths with baking soda or oatmeal added.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take paracetamol to reduce fever — always follow the dose instructions on the packet.
Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine if you are very unwell, or if you have a weakened immune system.
How can I protect myself against Chickenpox?
The best way to prevent Chickenpox is through vaccination.
Vaccination prevents a serious illness developing in most cases of Chickenpox. In rare cases, if you catch Chickenpox even after you have had the vaccine, your symptoms will usually be milder and will improve faster than if you had not been vaccinated.
You can receive the Chickenpox vaccine on its own, or combined with vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella (known as an MMR-V vaccination). Children can have the Chickenpox vaccine for free on the National Immunisation Program Schedule at 18 months of age.
MMR vaccinations don’t cause autism. Medical and scientific experts have completely discredited any research that might have suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Who should get vaccinated against Chickenpox?
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against Chickenpox can talk to their vaccination provider about getting vaccinated.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends Chickenpox vaccination for specific groups including:
- Children aged 12 months to under 4 years.
- Adolescents 14 years and over
- Adults who have not received 2 doses of the Chickenpox-containing vaccine, particularly healthcare workers and childhood educators and carers
- People who work in long-term care facilities
Eligible people under 20 years old and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get a free catch-up vaccination. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood and it is recommended to receive the vaccine.
The vaccine contains a small amount of live virus. Some people may not be able to have a live vaccine for medical reasons.
What are possible side effects of the Chickenpox vaccine?
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common side effects of Chickenpox vaccines include:
- Pain, redness and swelling at injection site
- Occasionally, an injection-site lump (may last many weeks -no treatment needed)
- Rash 5–26 days after vaccination, usually at injection site, occasionally elsewhere.
Talk to vaccination provider about possible side effects of Chickenpox vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.
Chickenpox vaccines should not be given to:
- Pregnant women
- People who have had anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any Chickenpox vaccine or anaphylaxis after any component of a Chickenpox vaccine
- People who are immunocompromised.
How to get the Chickenpox vaccine:
Chickenpox vaccines come as a single vaccine or as a combination vaccine that also protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
Chickenpox Vaccination Pricing: Members from $78.70 per dose, Retail Price from $90.80 per dose.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/