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Varicella Vaccination of Healthcare Personnel

Information for Healthcare Providers

 

Recommendations

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), with support from the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), recommends that healthcare institutions ensure that all healthcare personnel have evidence of immunity against varicella. They should receive 2 doses of varicella vaccine given 4 to 8 weeks apart.

For more information, see

Testing for Immunity

Healthcare personnel without evidence of immunity against varicella may get serologic screening before being vaccinated. This is likely to be cost effective since 70% to 90% of adults who do not remember having varicella actually have antibodies in their blood.

ACIP or HICPAC do not recommend that healthcare personnel get tested for immunity to varicella after 2 doses of vaccine. Commercial assays are not sensitive enough in all instances to detect antibodies after vaccination

Transmission

It is rare for vaccinated people to spread varicella vaccine virus, especially if they do not have rash. Since the varicella vaccine program started, only 8 vaccinated people have been documented as spreading vaccine virus to others. All of these vaccinated people had rash after vaccination. As a result, 9 people, including household members and people in long-term care facilities, got infected with varicella.

There has not been any documented transmission of varicella from vaccinated healthcare personnel.

Work Restrictions

Recently vaccinated healthcare personnel do not require any restriction in their work activities. However, healthcare personnel who develop varicella-like rash after getting vaccinated should stay away from people who do not have evidence of immunity and who are at risk for severe varicella. They should wait until all lesions resolve (crusted over). If they develop lesions that do not crust (macules and papules only), they should wait until no new lesions appear within a 24 hour period.

 

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