About the Vaccine:

The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is very effective at preventing the disease—two doses of the vaccine are about 90% effective at preventing chickenpox.


Who should get the vaccine:

  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults

High-risk populations:

Chickenpox vaccination is especially important for:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People who care for or are around others with a weakened immune system
  • Teachers and childcare workers
  • Residents and staff in nursing homes and residential settings
  • College students
  • Inmates and staff of correctional institutions
  • Military personnel
  • Non-pregnant women of child-bearing age
  • International travelers

Schedule information:

  • First dose at age 12 to 15 months
  • Second dose at age 4 to 6 years

All children under age 13 years should get two doses.

People 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine should get two doses, at least 28 days apart.

Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by chickenpox vaccination in the U.S.

Safety & side effects:

Just as with any medication, there are potential side effects to vaccines. Talk to your health care provider about specific side effects associated with this vaccine and learn more about vaccine safety and common side effects.

Pregnancy considerations:

Pregnant women should not get varicella vaccine.

About Varicella

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes an itchy, blister-like rash. The rash appears first on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body.


The varicella virus is very contagious and spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others. If one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

The virus spreads mainly through close contact with someone who has chickenpox.


Varicella causes an itchy rash that usually lasts about a week.

It can lead to skin infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the blood vessels, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, and infections of the bloodstream, bone, or joints.

Some people who get chickenpox get a painful rash called “shingles” years later.

It can also cause:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

Before 1995, chickenpox caused about 4 million cases, about 10,600 hospitalizations and 150 deaths every year.