Commonly called chickenpox, varicella is a common childhood disease that many adults have had during childhood. In 1995, a vaccine to prevent chicken pox entered the market. Today, the vaccine is highly recommended to parents of children between the ages of twelve and eighteen months. Unvaccinated children reaching the age of thirteen without having contracted chickenpox should have two doses of the vaccine spaced about six weeks apart.
Varicella or chickenpox is a virus that causes itchy red bumps all over the body and can cause a fever. While chickenpox in children is an itchy annoyance, it can be deadly for adults. There is a slim chance that chickenpox (1/10000) can lead to death.
The chance of the disease leading to pneumonia is slightly higher (23/10000). In a typical case of chickenpox, the symptoms can be reduced with calamine lotion and oatmeal baths. Once you have had chickenpox, odds are you will never have it again.
Should you have your child vaccinated for chickenpox? This is a tough question.
The vaccine has been used for decades in Japan protecting the patient for up to twenty years. Studies in the United States there is no clear evidence that the vaccine will still protect a person after eleven years. When given within a month of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine, the varicella vaccine has proven to be ineffective.
The varicella vaccine is only 85 to 90 percent effective. Some vaccinated children later contracted a mild to moderate case of chickenpox anyway. There is a small risk (0.02%) that a child receiving the vaccination can develop a fever leading to deadly seizures. Typically reactions to the vaccine include swelling at the site of the injection, muscle soreness, and/or a rash.
Of those who have been vaccinated and contracted chickenpox down the road, the disease has been mild and easily managed with anti-itch creams and fever reducers.
Currently, the varicella vaccine is optional. It is up to the parents to choose if they want their child/children vaccinated or not. There are dangers to having the vaccine and there are dangers in not having the vaccine.
Contemplate the natural parents’ experiences with chickenpox, if applicable. Odds are if the parent handled the virus well, the child/children will follow suit.