Varicella Vaccine Information
The varicella vaccine (Varivax®) is used for preventing chickenpox. It can be given to children older than 12 months, adolescents, and adults. Individuals who have already had chickenpox do not need to get the varicella vaccine (vaccination of individuals who have had chickenpox is not dangerous but is unnecessary).
Simply stated, the varicella vaccine "tricks" the body into thinking it has been exposed to chickenpox. The body produces antibodies that will help fight the virus if future exposure occurs. This vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning that it contains the living virus which has been altered in such a way as to prevent it from actually causing disease. However, the body's immune system still responds to it, providing future protection from the disease.
This vaccine is given as two separate doses, given at least one to three months apart. There is only one standard recommended dosage for the varicella vaccine, although the exact vaccination schedule varies, depending on the age of the individual at the first dose.
(For more information on when and how to get vaccinated, click Varicella Vaccine. This article takes a closer look at the vaccine, including who makes it, what you should tell your healthcare provider before taking it, and what side effects may occur.)