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Reducing Your Risk of Chickenpox
To avoid getting chickenpox, you should:
- Avoid contact with people who have it.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- Get a chickenpox (varicella) vaccine against the virus.
The chickenpox vaccine is a series of two shots. It is often given to children at ages:
- 12-15 months
- 4-6 years
The vaccine may also be given to adults. It may be needed for those that never had chickenpox or if their protection has worn off. The vaccine may not be appropriate for all. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
The doctor may also give a vaccine shot after you have contact with someone who is ill. It must be given within three days of exposure to chicken pox to be helpful.
Some may not be able to have a vaccine because of a health condition. Immune globulin may help prevent an infection. It is a blood product that has antibodies to the chickenpox virus. It will help your body fight the infection.
Immune globulin is given right after exposure to the virus. It needs to be done within 96 hours. This treatment is most often used in people with a high risk for severe complications such as:
- Adults, including pregnant women
- Newborns whose mothers have chickenpox
- People who are immunosuppressed or very ill
Preventing the Spread of Chickenpox
If someone in your household gets chickenpox, you can prevent it from spreading by:
- Keeping them away from others. Wait until all blisters have crusted over before they mix with others.
- Let other people who have been in contact with your child that they may have been exposed.
- Wash your hands often and well.
It is rare to get chickenpox a second time. Once you have had chickenpox you may be protected from having it again. However, the chickenpox virus can stay in the body. It can later flare up and cause shingles. This condition causes painful blisters. These blisters can pass the virus to others. Avoid contact with others until the blisters heal. It is most important to avoid people with high risk of complications.
Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox . Updated June 19, 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Chickenpox. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated January 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox. Updated June 28, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Updated February 6, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 03/2018
- Update Date: 07/03/2018