What is Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease, usually self-limiting but can cause high fever, pneumonia, liver and brain damage. If it happens during pregnancy it causes limb defects in the baby as well as other potentially life threatening and abortive complications. A normal child who develops chicken pox suffers for 1-2 weeks of disease. Occasional cases of pneumonia, encephalitis and even death have been reported in children having chicken pox. More importantly it leads to social problems like the child missing school or even final exams as it usually occurs during Jan-March every year.
Universal Vaccination of all public is the best prevention.
WHO recommends two doses of chicken pox vaccine given at 3 months gap after the age of one year, hence decreasing the chances of disease by >97%.
Do Older Children and Adults Need Vaccine?
Yes it’s a universal recommendation to get chicken pox vaccines for all, whatever the age may be especially:
1. Those who have not had chicken pox disease.
2. Non pregnant women of childbearing age.
3. Those who come in contact with high risk people e.g teachers, day care workers, hospital staff etc.
What is the vaccine schedule?
It is to be given subcutaneous over the arm or thigh. It is given at 12-15 months of age and a second dose is given close to school admission.
For older children and adults who have missed the vaccine, 2 doses are given at 8-12 weeks of gap.
What are the side effects?
It is a very safe vaccine. Local side effects include pain, redness and swelling in less than 5% kids. Systemic side effect like fever is very rare. 3-7% kids may develop varicella like rash, which is very mild with quick recovery. It can occur within 6 weeks after vaccination.
Dr Salman Ahmad Bajwa
MBBS, RMP, FCPS (Peads)