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Chickenpox and the vaccine that prevents it
The male doctor with a stethoscope listens to a child’s heartbeat, since the mother holds the child.
Doctors recommend that your child receive 2 doses of the chickenpox vaccine so that he gets the best protection. Your child will need 1 dose at each of the following ages:
between 12 and 15 months
between 4 and 6 years old
Information for parents
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The best way to protect against chickenpox is with the vaccine against that disease. Doctors recommend that all children who have never had chickenpox get the vaccine.
Why should my child receive the chickenpox vaccine?
The chickenpox vaccine:
Protect your child from chicken pox, a potentially serious and even fatal disease.
Prevents your child from missing school or daycare for up to a week (and prevents you from missing work to care for your sick child).
Is the chickenpox vaccine safe?
Yes. The chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective in preventing disease. Vaccines, like any other medication, can have side effects. However, most children who receive the chickenpox vaccine have no side effects.
What are the side effects?
Most children have no side effects from the vaccine. However, some children may have the following:
Pain, redness or swelling in the place where the vaccine was applied
Joint pain and stiffness in the joints
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a disease that causes a rash with itchy blisters and fever. A person with chickenpox can have up to 500 blisters. The rash can spread throughout the body. Chickenpox can be serious and even fatal, especially in infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
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What are the symptoms of chicken pox?
Typically, chickenpox causes the following symptoms:
Rash with itchy blisters
Symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days. In some cases, chickenpox can cause serious problems.
Chickenpox is usually mild in children, but itching can cause a lot of discomfort. Children who get chickenpox can lose about a week of school or daycare.
Before the vaccine was available, about 4 million people contracted chickenpox every year in the United States; More than 10,500 of these people were hospitalized and about 100 to 150 people died.
In some cases, chickenpox can cause serious problems such as:
Dehydration (loss of body fluids)
Pneumonia (an infection in the lungs)
Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
How is chickenpox spread?
Chickenpox spreads easily, especially when a person touches or breathes virus particles that come from the blisters caused by the disease. It can also be spread through very small droplets that reach the air when, for example, a person who has chickenpox breathes or talks. Chickenpox can be transmitted from 1 to 2 days before the infected person develops the rash until all the blisters have formed scabs.
Why shouldn’t I let my child get chickenpox and acquire immunity naturally?
Chickenpox is a mild disease for many children, but not for everyone. There is no way of knowing who will present a serious case of the disease. When your child receives chickenpox vaccines, he acquires immunity against that disease without the risk of serious complications.
Where can I get more information about the chickenpox vaccine for my child?
For more information about the chickenpox vaccine, talk to your child’s doctor, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov/spanish/immunizacion/.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend that all children receive their vaccines according to the recommended vaccination schedule.