The Chickenpox Vaccine

The Chickenpox Vaccine

The chickenpox vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your child from the varicella zoster virus.


Chickenpox is a very common childhood infection where symptoms are mild and complications rare. Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection, so they only catch it once. Chickenpox is less common but more severe in adults.


The chickenpox vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus that encourages your body to produce antibodies against the varicella zoster virus. Antibodies are proteins produced by your body to destroy disease and infection. The vaccine protects you from becoming ill if you are infected with chickenpox.


The chickenpox vaccine requires two doses, which are given four to eight weeks apart, and usually involves an injection into the thigh or upper arm. It is suitable for children aged over 12 months old and should either be given at the same time/at least a month after the MMR, as both vaccines contain a live but weakened version of the virus.


The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the childhood immunisation schedule. You can vaccinate your child against chickenpox, but it will incur a fee. Please contact reception for more information.

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Who should get the vaccine?

Anyone can choose not to vaccinate their child against chickenpox, but it may be of particular value in certain circumstances. For example, the vaccine is recommended for anyone who is likely to encounter people living with a weakened immune system due to an illness or treatment such as:

  • people living with HIV/AIDS, or
  • people undergoing treatment for cancer or organ transplant.


The chickenpox vaccine is also recommended for:

  • healthcare workers who have no previous history of chickenpox,
  • children who may meet people with a weakened immune system,
  • children living with severe disabilities who have never had chickenpox and are living in residential care, and
  • women of child-bearing age who have never had chickenpox.


The chickenpox vaccine is not recommended for:

  • People with a weakened immune system
  • People who have experienced as allergic reaction to any of the ingredients of the vaccine
  • Pregnant women
  • People who are already unwell, please defer until you recover


Side-effects of the Chickenpox Vaccine

Like most vaccines, your child may experience some mild side-effects, including:

  • a mild fever,
  • redness, itching, pain, hardness and swelling around the site of injection,
  • muscle ache, headache, and
  • feeling tired.

Aside from an extremely small risk of severe allergic reaction, there are no serious side-effects associated with the chickenpox vaccination. The side-effects usually pass within a few hours.


How much does it cost?

The chickenpox vaccine requires two doses, which are given four to eight weeks apart. The vaccine costs €80 per dose for Medical Card/GP Visit Card and private patients alike. This cost includes administration of the vaccine by the Nurse and brings the total cost to €160 for both doses.

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Content developed from HSE and NHS Choices is adapted for Galway East Medical Practice by Galway East Medical Practice.

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