Administering the Vaccine

Vaccine Administration

Children Age 12 Months through Age 12 Years

  • Two doses (0.5 ml each) of varicella vaccine should be given subcutaneously, separated by at least 3 months
  • MMRV vaccine is approved for healthy children in this age group

Single-antigen vaccine and MMWR vaccine can be used for the routine two-dose varicella vaccination.

  • First dose: age 12 months through age 15 months
  • Second dose: age 4 years through age 6 years

For the first dose, CDC recommends that MMR and varicella vaccines be given separately in children age 12 months through age 15 months unless the parent or caregiver expresses a preference for MMRV vaccine.

Both vaccines may be given at the same time as other vaccines for children age 12 months through 15 months and age 4 years through 6 years.

People 13 Years Old or Older

  • 2 doses (0.5 ml each) of the single-antigen varicella vaccine subcutaneously 4 to 8 weeks apart
  • MMRV vaccine is not approved for people in this age group.

For package inserts, see Varivaxexternal icon® and ProQuadexternal icon®.

Vaccine Administration Errors

People Who Got Varicella Vaccine But Should Not Have

People who got varicella vaccine but should not have because of contraindications should be monitored for adverse reactions. Any adverse reactions should be reported online to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon. If you need further assistance with reporting to VAERS, please email info@VAERS.org or call 1-800-822-7967.

People who had varicella or a positive serologic test for varicella in the past are less likely to develop serious adverse reactions to the vaccine, unless they have had a prior serious allergic reaction to any ingredient of a vaccine. For more information about potential adverse reactions, see Vaccine Safety.

Pregnant women should not get vaccinated. For more information, see Contraindications and Precautions for Varicella Vaccination or Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women: Varicella. To report administration of VZV-containing vaccines to a pregnant woman, call the manufacturer at 1-877-888-4231. See Merck’s websiteexternal icon for more information. Inadvertent vaccination of pregnant women should also be reported to VAERSexternal icon.

The pregnancy outcomes of women inadvertently vaccinated with VZV-containing vaccines immediately before or during pregnancy were monitored by the Merck/CDC Pregnancy Registry for VZV-Containing Vaccines during 1995-2013.  During this period, no cases of congenital varicella syndrome and no increased prevalence of other birth defects were detected.  Although a small risk for congenital varicella syndrome could not be ruled out, the number of exposures registered each year (approximately two varicella-susceptible women exposed during the high-risk period for congenital varicella syndrome) was too low to improve on the estimate of the risk and the registry was discontinued.

People Who Got Herpes Zoster Vaccine Instead of Varicella Vaccine

A dose of recombinant herpes zoster vaccine (Shingrix) administered  instead of varicella vaccine does not count as a dose of varicella vaccine.

People who got the recombinant herpes zoster vaccine should be monitored for any serious adverse reactions. Adverse reactions and vaccine administration errors should be reported online to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon. If you need further assistance with reporting to VAERS, please email info@VAERS.org or call 1-800-822-7967.

Page last reviewed: April 28, 2021