Chickenpox can be Serious Chickenpox can be Serious
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Chickenpox Can Be Serious: Protect Your Child

Most children with chickenpox completely recover. But it can be serious, even fatal, for babies, adolescents, and adults. Be proactive. Get vaccinated if you are not protected against chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease. You or your child may be at risk if you have never had chickenpox or have never gotten the vaccine. Chickenpox causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. This can make you feel sick and very uncomfortable and cause you to miss 5 to 7 days of school or work.

First the Rash, Then the Blisters

Classic chickenpox symptoms are—

Red, itchy rash that usually starts on the face, chest, and back then spreads to the rest of the body Fluid-filled blisters, resulting from the rash, that break and crust over

Most children with chickenpox completely recover in a week. But it can be severe for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

Chickenpox used to be very common in this country. About 4 million people would get it each year. Also, 10,500 to 13,000 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 people died because of chickenpox each year. Most people who had severe chickenpox were healthy beforehand. Read a mother’s story about her 13-month old child who had severe chickenpox [PDF – 380KB].

Thankfully, chickenpox vaccine has changed all that.

Chickenpox Vaccine: Your Best Protection

Chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect you and your child from chickenpox. Also, when you get vaccinated, you protect others in your community. This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.

Children should get the first dose of chickenpox vaccine when they are 12 through 15 months old and the second dose at age 4 through 6 years. People 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox should get two doses at least 28 days apart. If you or your child only got one dose in the past, check with your doctor about getting a second dose.

Two doses of chickenpox vaccine are very effective at preventing severe disease, complications, and death. You can still get chickenpox if you have been vaccinated. But, it is usually milder with fewer blisters and little or no fever.

Some people should wait to get vaccinated or should not get vaccinated at all, including pregnant women and those with severe weakened immune systems. Learn more about who should not get chickenpox vaccine.

Chickenpox vaccine is safer than getting the disease. Make sure you and your children are protected.

Chickenpox Can Be Severe

Chickenpox can be severe for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. It can cause—

dehydration pneumonia bleeding problems brain infection or inflammation bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues in children including Group A streptococcal infections blood stream infections (sepsis) toxic shock syndrome bone infections joint infections death

If you have any questions about chickenpox or the vaccine, talk with your doctor.

Paying for Chickenpox Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But, you may want to check with your insurance provider first. If you don’t have insurance, or if your plan does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps children who are eligible get the vaccines they need. The vaccines are provided at no cost to doctors who serve children who are eligible.