Varicella (Chickenpox) Fast Facts

Why vaccinate against chickenpox?

  • The risk of hospitalization and death from chickenpox is increased in adults.
  • Chickenpox may cause complications such as pneumonia or, rarely, an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), both of which can be very serious.
  • About 90% of unvaccinated household contacts of an infected person will catch chickenpox.

Which adults need chickenpox vaccine?

  • All adults who never received the chickenpox vaccine and never had the chickenpox.
  • If you’re not sure whether you had chickenpox or the vaccine, you should get vaccinated.
  • Adults who are at higher risk of exposure should especially consider vaccination. They include healthcare workers, college students, teachers, and daycare workers.

What happens when someone gets chickenpox?

  • The tell-tale symptom of chickenpox is a rash that develops into itchy blisters over the entire body. The rash can spread into the mouth or other areas inside the body.
  • Chickenpox can also cause body aches, fever, and fatigue.
  • Chickenpox is not usually severe, but the risk of hospitalization and death is increased in adults and adolescents.

Why is chickenpox vaccine important?

  • The vaccine reduces the chance of getting chickenpox.
  • Vaccinated individuals who get chickenpox are likely to experience a milder case than those who are not vaccinated.

Isn't chickenpox the same as shingles?

  • Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus. Once the virus causes chickenpox, it can then "hide" in the body. Years or even decades later, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. There is a separate vaccine to help keep the virus from reactivating and causing shingles. That vaccine is recommended for adults age 60 or older.


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