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Varicella; Chicken pox
Because chickenpox is airborne and very contagious before the rash even appears, it is difficult to avoid. It is possible to catch chickenpox from someone on a different aisle in the supermarket, who does not even know they have chickenpox!
A chickenpox vaccine is part of the routine immunization schedule.
Almost no one will develop moderate or severe chickenpox if they have received the chickenpox vaccine. The small number of children who do develop chickenpox after they have received the vaccine have only a mild case.
The chickenpox vaccine does not require a booster later in life. However, a similar but different vaccine given later in life may reduce the incidence of herpes zoster (shingles).
Talk to your doctor if you think your child might be at high risk for complications and might have been exposed. Immediate preventive measures may be important. Giving the vaccine early after exposure may still reduce the severity of the disease.
Myers MG, Seward JF, LaRussa PS. Varicella-zoster virus. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 250.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents--United States, 2008. Pediatrics. 2008;121:219-220.
This article uses information by permission from Alan Greene, M.D., © Greene Ink, Inc.
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