Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. The virus spreads mainly by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets from infected people that get into the air after they breathe or talk, for example. Symptoms of chickenpox include an itchy rash, fever, and tiredness. The disease can be serious – even fatal – especially for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system. The best protection against chickenpox is two doses of the chickenpox vaccine. Most people who get the vaccine will not get chickenpox. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer or no blisters (they may have just red spots) and mild or no fever.
- Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that is caused by varicella zoster virus.
- The classic symptom of chickenpox is a blister-like rash. You can have between 250 and 500 blisters all over your body.
- Before the vaccine was available, about 4 million people in the United States would get chickenpox each year.
- You can still get chickenpox if you have been vaccinated; however, the symptoms are usually milder, with fewer or no blisters (sometimes just red spots) and mild or no fever.
- CDC recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine. If you previously got one dose, make sure to get a second one.
- Chickenpox vaccine is very effective at preventing severe disease, complications, and death.
- Children, adolescents, and adults should get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine.
- Children should get the first dose of chickenpox vaccine at 12 through 15 months old and a second dose at 4 through 6 years old.
- People 13 years and older who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine should get two doses at least 28 days apart. If you previously got one dose, make sure to get your second one.
- 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 a weakened immune system, babies less than 12 months old, or pregnant women.
- Some people should wait to get vaccinated or should not get vaccinated at all. This includes pregnant women and those with a severely weakened immune system.
- Talk to your doctor if you have questions about chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.