Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. Chickenpox used to be very common in the United States. Each year, chickenpox caused about 4 million cases, about 10,600 hospitalizations and 100 to 150 deaths.
Two doses of the vaccine are about 90% effective at preventing chickenpox. When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself and others in your community. This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.
Some people who are vaccinated against chickenpox may still get the disease. However, it is usually milder with fewer blisters and little or no fever. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have questions about chickenpox vaccine.
CDC recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine for children, adolescents, and adults. Children should receive two doses of the vaccine—the first dose at 12 through 15 months old and a second dose at 4 through 6 years old.
- CDC chickenpox disease Web site
- Chickenpox fact sheet [2 pages] – includes a true story of a 13-month old child’s experience with chickenpox
- Chickenpox fact sheet for parents
- Chickenpox Vaccine Information Statement
- Combined Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella Vaccine Information Statement
- Page last reviewed: July 1, 2016
- Page last updated: November 22, 2016
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