Chicken Pox Vaccination in London
The Chicken pox ( Varicella) vaccine is available for children over 12 months of age, but is not available for all children via the UK immunisation schedule.
Two doses are needed with a minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses.
What is chickenpox?
The chickenpox infection is characterised by the symptom of an itchy rash, with small blisters filled with fluid. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. If you haven’t been vaccinated against the disease, or had it before, chickenpox will be very contagious. In the UK, chickenpox vaccines are generally given to children when there is a clinical need. Some 90 per cent of all chickenpox cases occur in young children.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
The itchy rash of blisters which chickenpox causes usually appears ten to 21 days following exposure to the virus. It typically lasts around five to ten days. There are other symptoms which can arise before the rash appears. These include: loss of appetite; fever; fatigue; and headache.
After the rash has appeared, there are three defined phases: 1) pink papules (bumps) which break out over a few days; 2) small blisters filled with fluid, known as vesicles, which form before breaking and leaking; 3) scabs and cuts which form, covering the blisters which have broken. These take a few more days to heal.
It is possible that two or three of these phases can overlap. You should note that the virus can be spread to others for up to 48 hours before the rash has appeared. The virus will be contagious until the blisters have scabbed over. Severe cases of chickenpox can see the rash cover the entire body, including in the eyes and throat, and mucus membranes of the urethra, vagina and anus.
How is chickenpox treated?
Chickenpox requires no medical treatment for healthy children or older people. In some cases, an antihistamine may be prescribed by your doctor, this serves to relieve itching. If you or your child are adjudged to be at high risk of chickenpox complications, your doctor could prescribe medications which can help to reduce complication risk and shorten the infection’s length. Among the drugs which might be recommended are acyclovir or immune globulin intravenous.
Can a child get chickenpox after being vaccinated?
Chickenpox vaccines provide total protection from the diseases for almost 98 per cent of people who receive it. Even when the vaccine does not give total protection, it still reduces the severity of chickenpox significantly.
Is it better to catch chickenpox or get the vaccine?
In the UK, the chickenpox vaccine is typically offered by the NHS to non-immune healthcare workers, and those who usually come into close contact with a person who has a weakened immune system.
If you or your child does have a chickenpox vaccine, you should note that a single dose will offer immunity to about nine in every ten children, while two doses – which are usually recommended – will offer a better immune response (around 98 per cent). The vaccination is understood to be less effective after childhood