Varivax - the Chicken Pox VaccineChicken pox is often thought of as a normal illness of childhood that usually only causes mild symptoms, but it can lead to serious complications, especially in young children and adults. About 12,000 people each year are hospitalized for complications of having chicken pox and about 100 of these people die.
The chicken pox vaccine is about 85-90% effective in preventing chicken pox in children who are immunized, but it is 100% effective at preventing a moderate or severe case of chicken pox. So, while it is still possible that your child will get chicken pox after getting the vaccine, it is usually a very mild case, with a lower fever, less blisters and a quicker recovery than a child who wasn't immunized.
It isn't yet known how long immunity will last in children who have received the chicken pox vaccine, but current studies show immunity lasts at least twenty years, since people who have received the vaccine twenty years ago are still immune. It is not currently believed that children will need a booster dose of the chicken pox vaccine, but studies are continuing to be done.
Since it was introducted in 1995, about 6 million doses of the chicken pox vaccine have been given.
As mentioned above, if your child is given the Varivax vaccine within 72 hours (and sometimes up to five days) of being exposed to someone with chicken pox, it may help prevent him from becoming infected.
ShinglesAfter having chicken pox, the chicken pox virus stays dormant in your body. In some children, it can become reactivated and cause shingles. The main symptoms of shingles is a rash on one side of the body that begins as a cluster of red bumps. These bumps then change into small blisters or vesicles that soon crust over. Your child may also feel itchy, but will otherwise be well. The rash usually continues to develop for a few days and then completely crust over and go away in about seven to ten days without treatment.
Children with shingles are contagious and can transmit chicken pox to others who aren't immune. Direct contact with the rash is necessary to be contagious, so he does not need to stay home from school if you can keep the rash completely covered.