Chickenpox - All you need to know

Can you get chickenpox with vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine is essential for getting yourself immunized against the virus. However, here the question arises: can you get chickenpox with vaccine? Unfortunately, you can still get chickenpox even after the vaccination.

There’s no specific rule which says that getting the chickenpox vaccination won’t make you prone to the viral infection. If an individual becomes immunized against chickenpox after getting the vaccine, there’s still a chance that they can get the virus. It’s possible to be exposed to the virus through the droplets expelled by a person infected with chickenpox when they cough or sneeze. However, someone who has become immune to the chickenpox virus after previously suffering with it will not be able to be infected by the acute form.


The symptoms in an immunized individual will be mild. Mild symptoms include a low-grade or no fever and only a few blisters. The blisters appear on the limbs or hairline of the person, while the macular rash can also appear on the neck, chest, abdomen, and scalp. Very few erythematous lesions can also occur on the buccal cavity. If chickenpox appears in those who have been vaccinated, it subsides within 10 to 14 days because of their strong immunity. Thus, the treatment of these patients is considered conservative.

Read about Chickenpox symptoms, and 4 things you can do to help


In the conservative management patients with chickenpox, calamine solution is applied on the skin where the macular rash is present. Moreover, antihistamine drugs such as are given to patients. These drugs help to prevent the symptoms of allergies.

If we talk about the statistics, there is only a 2-3% chance of getting the chickenpox virus after being vaccinated against it. That means that 95-97% of people do not get the virus after being vaccinated.

Now a new question arises: why do people who get vaccinated develop milder symptoms or none at all? This happens when the vaccine of varicella is injected into the individual’s body. As a result, the body produces a reaction against it. This reaction is called an antigen-antibody reaction. Antibodies are produced in the body and make the body immune to this virus.

Read about Chickenpox and shingels – whats the difference?

At what age should your baby get a chickenpox vaccine?

Your baby should get shot of the chickenpox vaccine between the ages of 12 to 15 months. This vaccine is called the varicella vaccine and helps to prevent the serious complications of chickenpox disease.

These complications include bacterial infections, hepatitis, encephalitis, or pneumonia. The chickenpox disease is also called varicella. It involves a diffuse rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Therefore, it’s best that your baby get the chickenpox vaccine on time in order to develop their immunity.

After receiving the varicella vaccine around the age of 12 months, your baby becomes immunized within three months. Still, if your baby is unable to get the vaccine against chickenpox at the right age, no worries! It’s still possible to get the shot at the age of 13. When a child receives the vaccine at this age, they will develop immunity within four weeks.

Why is receiving the varicella shot necessary?

A person who hasn’t been vaccinated against chickenpox will become easily prone to the exanthem. Even if they recover, it doesn’t mean that the virus goes away.

The virus remains in the dorsal ganglionic cells. These cells are also called sensory ganglions. When the unimmunized child reaches late adulthood, the virus present in the ganglionic cells may reactivate.

After reactivating, this virus can attack the body more severely. For example, it may develop exanthem over the dermatomes. This appears as a rash. The rash seems like tiny vesicles and appears all over the body, including all the extremities, trunk and back, face, hairline, sides, etc.

An unimmunized child may develop a fever of 104 °F. They may also develop the other complications of the chickenpox. On the contrary, a child who has had the varicella immunization at the right time will not be prone to chickenpox and, if they do develop chickenpox, will have milder symptoms. Furthermore, while these symptoms subside of their own within a short period, you should still be careful with your child’s health. Make sure you know the right schedule for getting your child immunized against chickenpox. 

Vaccination Booster

When you take your child to get vaccinated, your doctor may advise you to come again for another shot at a specific time. This is the vaccination booster. The vaccination booster is an extra shot of the immunity antigen given after the very first shot of the vaccine. The vaccination booster shot is given to increase the level of immunity of a person against the specific antigen.

Different types of vaccinations have different timings for administration. One of such booster doses of vaccination is varicella-zoster. This vaccine, when combined with its booster dose, is more than 95% effective in preventing the disease. The vaccination is given in two doses at 0.5 ml. The schedule for the booster dose depends upon two conditions:

  1. If the child has received the first dose of vaccination at the age of 12 months to 15 months, the second booster dose is given when the child is 4 to 6 years old.
  2. If the first dose of vaccination is received by an adolescent at the age of 13 years, the booster dose is given after an interval of 4 to 6 weeks.

As we know that the child receives a single shot of vaccine equal to 0.5ml, this means that when a child receives the booster dose of vaccine, they end with a total 1 ml of the varicella vaccine. However, why are vaccination booster doses given? And why is there an interval between the 1st dose and the booster shot?

Why boost the vaccine?

To answer this, it’s important to understand the concept of vaccinations. Vaccines contains a weak version of the virus which is inserted into the body. This mean the virus is detected and our bodies form antibodies to fight against it. When the first shot is given, immunity starts to develop inside a person’s body.

The development of immunity, however, takes time. For example, it takes nearly three months for the antibodies against varicella to create immunity.  Moreover, immunity may not develop completely inside a person’s body; that’s the reason for the booster shot.

Chickenpox vaccination duration

Chickenpox is a disease that can easily affect your child if they aren’t immunized. This can lead to the development of the following symptoms:

  • High-grade fever
  • Macular rash
  • Itching
  • In severe cases, complications such as bacterial infections, pneumonia, and protracted vomiting.
  • In severe cases, the virus also affects the visceral organs of an individual.

On the other hand, the child or adult who receives the vaccination at the right time remains protected against this viral disease. Moreover, if they do become infects, the symptoms of the disease appear to be very mild.

Next, how long does it take to develop immunity against this viral infection? The answer to this question is simple; almost 3 months are required to develop immunity for a child.

Similarly, if an adult gets the vaccination at the age of 13, they will develop immunity within a period of 4 to 5 weeks.

When you get your child immunized, one question always arises: for how long does the chickenpox vaccination remains effective? When someone gets immunized against the varicella virus, they will remain immunized for a period of 10 to 20 years.

During this period, there is almost a 95% chance that they will not get chickenpox. Plus, even if they do become infected, they will not develop severe symptoms.. Moreover, the recovery phase will be faster than the developmental phase and the virus will subside within a few days.

To get your immunity against the virus for 10 to 20 years, it is necessary to receive both shots of the vaccine. These include the primary shot and the booster dose. If you haven’t received the chickenpox vaccination, you can become prone to the disease.

What side effects or risks are there?

The chickenpox vaccine is also termed as a varicella vaccine. This vaccine is necessary for the prevention of the varicella infection. However, there are a few side effects or risks associated with it which will be discussed below.

Side effects associated with the chickenpox vaccine:
  • Minor injection site reactions
  • The appearance of a varicelliform rash
  • Other associated side effects
  • Allergic reaction
Minor injection site reactions:

The chickenpox vaccine is given in the deltoid (shoulder) muscle. As a result, a site reaction occurs in two cases: either as a reaction of the skin to the needle or as a result of an allergic reaction to the drug injected.

 Reactions include redness, swelling, and itching at the site of injection. Bruises can also form at the injection site. These types of reactions occur in almost 20 % of vaccines.

The appearance of varicelliform rash:

After getting the vaccination, 3-5% of people experience a simple rash at the injection site. The 3-6 % of people are those who develop the varicelliform rash outside the injection site. This rash appears as a mass of small blisters and is painful for the patient.

Other associated side effects:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Convulsions or body tremors
  • A feeling of weakness/ fatigue
  • Upset stomach
Allergic reaction:

An allergic reaction can also occur in response to the chickenpox vaccine. The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Dizzy feeling
  • Increased palpitations
  • Swelling of body parts such as lips, face, or hands, etc.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Urticaria

Risks of varicella vaccine:

Before the administration of the varicella vaccine, you should also be aware of the risks. If you meet the conditions given below, please consult your healthcare practitioner before injecting the vaccine.

  1. Do not inject vaccine if you have developed a severe allergic reaction after previous doses
  2. The chickenpox vaccine is not suitable for those children who have immunodeficiency
  3. The chickenpox vaccine should not be injected in pregnant females
  4. Premature babies are also at risk of the chickenpox vaccine

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