Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccines

Safety Information

About Chickenpox (Varicella)

Chickenpox, or varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes an itchy, blister-like rash that appears first on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body. Other typical symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache.

Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system. Some people who get chickenpox get a painful rash called shingles (also known as herpes zoster) later in life.

Learn more about chickenpox.

There are safe and effective vaccines that can protect against chickenpox.

Available Vaccines

Vaccine Information Statements

Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) are information sheets produced by CDC that explain both the benefits and risks of a vaccine.

There are two chickenpox vaccines approved for use in the United States: one single antigen vaccine and one combination vaccine.

Both vaccines contain live attenuated (weakened) varicella-zoster virus. Learn more about live, attenuated vaccines.

Who Should Get Chickenpox Vaccine

CDC recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine for children, adolescents, and adults who have never had chickenpox and were never vaccinated.

Children should receive their first dose of chickenpox vaccine at age 12 to 15 months and a second dose at age 4 to 6 years. The second dose can be given at an earlier age if it is at least 3 months after the first dose.

People 13 years of age and older who have never been vaccinated or never had chickenpox should get 2 doses, at least 28 days apart.


Talk with your
healthcare provider
about vaccines.


They can answer questions and
offer advice based on your
specific health needs.

For more information, see Who should get chickenpox vaccine.

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Child and Adult Immunization Schedules
Get CDC’s official recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents, and adults.

Manufacturer Package Inserts

Common Side Effects

Chickenpox vaccine is safe and effective at preventing chickenpox. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. The most common side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.

Important!

Severe allergic reactions following vaccination are rare, but can be life threatening.
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.

If such reactions occur, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

Chickenpox Vaccine
Common Side Effects
  • Sore arm from the shot
  • Fever
  • Mild rash where shot is given
  • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints

Who Should Not Get Chickenpox Vaccine

People should not get the chickenpox vaccine if they:

  • Have had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous dose of a chickenpox vaccine, or have any severe life-threatening allergies to a vaccine component, such as gelatin or neomycin
  • Have a fever or active infection
  • Are pregnant or might be pregnant
  • Have a weakened immune system due to medication, history of hereditary or congenital immune system problems, or cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Have untreated active tuberculosis (TB)

People should talk to their healthcare provider about receiving the chickenpox vaccine if they:

  • Are taking salicylates, such as aspirin
  • Are taking acyclovir or similar medication
  • Have recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products
  • Have a parent or sibling history of hereditary or congenital immune system problems
  • Have moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever
  • Have gotten any other live vaccines in the past 4 weeks

In some cases, the healthcare provider might decide to postpone chickenpox vaccination to a future visit.

More information about contraindications and precautions.

More Information
Report Possible Adverse Events To VAERS

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is an early warning system, co-managed by CDC and FDA, that monitors for potential vaccine safety problems.

Healthcare providers and vaccine manufacturers are required by law to report certain adverse events following vaccination to VAERS; patients and caregivers can also submit reports.

For more information, see Report an Adverse Event to VAERSexternal icon.

A Closer Look at the Safety Data

Chickenpox vaccine has been shown to be safe and well tolerated. The findings from many vaccine safety monitoring systems and years of studies have shown that chickenpox vaccines have a favorable safety profile—the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.

Which adverse events are considered “serious”?

By the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21external icon, an adverse event is defined as serious if it involves any of the following outcomes

  • Death
  • A life-threatening adverse event
  • A persistent or significant disability or incapacity
  • A congenital anomaly or birth defect
  • Hospitalization, or prolongation of existing hospitalization

Learn more about adverse events.

How CDC Monitors Vaccine Safety

CDC and FDA monitor the safety of vaccines after they are approved or authorized. If a problem is found with a vaccine, CDC and FDA will inform health officials, health care providers, and the public.

CDC uses 3 systems to monitor vaccine safety:

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