Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the Varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is spread by breathing in droplets from infected people that get into the air when they cough or sneeze, or touching the virus particles from chickenpox blisters. People who have never had the disease or been vaccinated can be easily infected. If an expectant mother gets infected in early pregnancy, the baby may be affected by various congenital abnormalities including skin lesions, neurological defects, eye diseases, skeletal anomalies or even neonatal death.
The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get vaccinated against it. Varivax is a live attenuated vaccine against chickenpox. As with any other vaccines, Varivax cannot completely prevent all chickenpox infections.
If you are about to take Varivax, please check if you have any of the following conditions. If so, you are not suitable to get vaccinated:
Allergic to any components of this vaccine, including gelatin and neomycin
Immune system diseases, e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma, AIDS
Immunodeficiency in close family member(s)
On immunosuppression therapy, including high dose corticosteroid treatment
Have received blood transfusion or human immune globulin within 5 months
Pregnant or breastfeeding
High fever (>38.5°C)
Precautions after MMR®II injection:
Avoid products that contain aspirin for 6 weeks as this may cause a serious condition called Reye Syndrome which can cause liver toxicity, brain disease, or even death.
No immune globulin infusion including varicella zoster immune globulin within 1 month.
You will need a second Varivax injection 4 to 8 weeks after the first injection.
Common reactions after Varivax: (1/10 – 1/100)
Redness, swelling and pain at the injection site.
Upper respiratory tract infection.
Uncommon reactions after Varivax (1/100 – 1/1000)
Headache, drowsiness, weakness, generally feeling unwell.
Diarrhoea, vomiting (gastroenteritis), upset stomach.
Discharge and itching of the eyes with crusting of eyelids (conjunctivitis).
Ear infection, sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, chest congestion, runny nose, flu.
Varicella skin rash.
Rare reactions (1/1000 – 1/10000) and side effects that are extremely rare have also been reported. These include illnesses affecting the nervous system e.g. Bell's palsy; blood system e.g. aplastic anaemia; or multiple organ diseases e.g. Reye syndrome.