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CHICKENPOX VACCINATION

Chickenpox may be prevented with vaccines that help protect against the varicella zoster virus. Vaccination is available on the NHS for people who meet certain criteria;2 for others, it can be obtained privately.3

Some parents choose to vaccinate their children against chickenpox privately, but in general, awareness of chickenpox vaccination among parents is low. In fact, market research has shown that up to two thirds of parents aren’t aware there are vaccinations available.4

As a healthcare professional, you are ideally placed to educate parents about their options for chickenpox prevention and help them make an informed decision

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR EDUCATION

NHS Vaccinations

Chickenpox vaccination is available on the NHS for healthy susceptible contacts of immunocompromised patients where continuing close contact is unavoidable (e.g. siblings of a leukaemic child or a child whose parent is undergoing chemotherapy).

If a patient falls into this category, you should inform them of their eligibility and encourage them to take up vaccination

You can find more information in Chapter 34 of the Green Book.2

Private Vaccinations

Parents of children not eligible for chickenpox vaccination on the NHS may wish for their child to be vaccinated privately so it’s useful to inform them of their options.

There are a number of appropriate touchpoints that could be used to initiate a discussion:

  • At the time of other childhood vaccinations (e.g. MMR)
  • Upon expression of interest in other private vaccinations (e.g. travel vaccines)
  • When there has been an outbreak of chickenpox at nursery or school, and the child has not yet developed chickenpox*
  • *VARIVAX (Varicella Vaccines (Live)) may be administered to susceptible individuals who have been exposed to chickenpox. Vaccination within 3 days of exposure may prevent a clinically apparent infection or modify the course of the infection.5

FAQs
How much does the chickenpox vaccine cost?

It costs between £120 and £2006

What are the benefits of getting my child vaccinated?

Chickenpox vaccination is well studied and effective, with 9 out of 10 children vaccinated with one dose becoming immune to the virus. With the full course providing even better immune responses7. Download the Vaccination Information Sheet here.

How does chickenpox vaccine protect my child?

The Varicella Zoster Virus is responsible for chickenpox8. It is the same virus that is reactivated later on in life to cause Shingles in adults9. The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine containing an attenuated form of the virus so that an immune response is stimulated without causing disease, in healthy individuals. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies that will help protect against chickenpox10.

That individual is then protected from the virus, therefore they won’t contract the disease.

How long after exposure can the vaccine be administered?

Vaccination within 3 days of exposure may prevent a clinically apparent infection or modify the course of infection. Varivax can be administered to susceptible individuals who have been exposed to chickenpox11.

What is the age range for the chickenpox vaccine?

Varivax can be administered to individuals from 9 months of age with a 3-month period between the 1st and 2nd dose. Alternatively, Varviax can be administered from 12 months to 12 years of age and at least one month must elapse between the 1st and 2nd dose11.