The chickenpox vaccine protects against the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox.

The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule.

It is currently only offered on the NHS to people who are in close contact with someone who is particularly vulnerable to chickenpox or its complications.

There are two chickenpox vaccines currently available. The brand names of the chickenpox vaccine are VARIVAX and VARILRIX.

Read the patient information leaflet (PIL) for VARIVAX.

Read the patient information leaflet (PIL) for VARILRIX.

Risk group

Chickenpox is a common childhood infection. Usually, it's mild and complications are rare. Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection, so most only catch it once. The disease can be more severe in adults.

Certain groups of people, however, are at greater risk of serious complications from chickenpox. These include:

  • People who have weakened immune systems through illnesses such as HIV or treatments like chemotherapy
  • Pregnant women – chickenpox can be very serious for an unborn baby when a pregnant woman catches the infection. It can cause a range of serious birth defects, as well as severe disease in the baby when it is born. Read more about what to do if you catch or are exposed to chickenpox in pregnancy

Should have the chickenpox vaccine?

It is recommended for certain individuals, such as:

  • Non-immune healthcare workers
  • People who come into close contact with someone who has a weakened immune system

This is to lower the chances of infecting people at risk. For example, if you're having chemotherapy treatment, it's advisable that non-immune children close to you are given the chickenpox vaccine.

The vaccine would also be recommended if you were about to start work in a radiotherapy department and had not had chickenpox before.

Read more about who should have the chickenpox vaccine.

How it works

The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine and contains a small amount of weakened chickenpox-causing virus.

The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies that will help protect against chickenpox.

Read more about live vaccines.

Read more about chickenpox vaccine side effects.

How it is given

The vaccine is given as two separate injections, usually into the upper arm, four to eight weeks apart.

Effectiveness

It's been shown that 9 out of 10 children vaccinated with a single dose will develop immunity against chickenpox. Two doses are recommended, as this gives an even better immune response.

The vaccination is not quite as effective after childhood. It's estimated that three-quarters of teenagers and adults who are vaccinated will become immune to chickenpox.

If you are worried your child has a rash that could be chickenpox, take a look at this childhood rashes slideshow to see if the rash is a typical symptom of chickenpox or another childhood condition.

ABC of Chickenpox Vaccination Service

A

It is a walk in service. No appointments required.You can speak to our pharmacist

B

Consultation with a pharmacistOur pharmacist will discuss the service with you, including any side effects and how the vaccination will be given

C

Receive your vaccinationIf it’s right for you, our pharmacist will administer the vaccination and ask you to remain in the pharmacy for five minutes in case of any immediate side effects

Speak to our pharmacist

Please Call 020 8852 6292 and talk to our pharmacist

The in-store or a telephone consultation will take short time and put you on the right path.