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Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccinations

About Varicella

Varicella zoster is the virus that causes chickenpox.  Chickenpox is a common and usually mild childhood infection. Chickenpox spreads very easily from one infected person to the next. Over 90% of children will have had chickenpox by the time they reach adolescence.  Symptoms generally get worse with age, often requiring time off from school, childcare or work.

Certain groups of people are at greater risk of complications from chickenpox. These include:-

  • People who have weakened immune systems through illnesses such as HIV, or treatments like chemotherapy
  • Pregnant women

The NHS offers the chickenpox vaccine to non-immune healthcare workers, laboratory workers in direct contact with the virus and people who are in close contact with someone who is vulnerable to chickenpox or its complications.

For other adults and children vaccination against Varicella is not available on the NHS.


Rash – itchy, often fluid filled blisters which can appear all over the body. The blisters start as red spots, becoming very itchy and fluid filled in the first couple of days. The blisters may burst.

After a further two or three days, the blisters begin to dry out and crust over. New spots might appear while others are becoming blisters or forming a scab.

Other symptoms may include:-

  • High temperature
  • Aches and pains
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite.

You need to stay away from school, nursery or work until all of the spots have crusted over. This is usually five days after the spots appeared.


  • Drink plenty of fluid
  • Use paracetamol to help with pain and discomfort
  • Put socks on your child’s hands at night to stop scratching
  • Use cooling creams or gels from a pharmacy
  • Antihistamine medicine can be used to help with the itching
  • Bathe in cool water and pat the skin dry (do not rub)
  • Dress in loose clothes


  1. Do not use ibuprofen as this can worsen skin reactions in children with chickenpox.
  2. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.


  • Keep your child off school/nursery from the onset of rash until the last blister has crusted over
  • Wash their bedding, towels and clothes regularly
  • Avoid those at higher risk of complications (pregnant women, newborn babies, those with weakened immune systems)
  • If you are due to fly, inform the airline as soon as the rash appears. You will usually be allowed to fly once the last spot has crusted over.

Pregnant women should avoid any contact with people with chickenpox and avoid contact with people who have contracted Shingles if they have not immune to the virus. 

It is possible that complications from chickenpox can result in other infections such as Pneumonia, Hepatitis and/or Encephalitis.

Varicella vaccinations

Chickenpox Vaccine – 2 doses a minimum of 6 weeks apart.

The chickenpox vaccination is suitable for adults and children aged between one and 65 years inclusive at the time of the first vaccination.

The vaccination is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone with a weakened immune system, or anyone who has had an allergic reaction to any previous vaccination. It is also not suitable for anyone who has received the MMR vaccine in the previous four weeks.

Book your private chickenpox vaccinations here