There are two vaccines available in BC that provide protection against varicella:
- Varicella vaccine
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) vaccine
The efficacy of a single dose of varicella-containing vaccine is about 94% in children. With a second dose, efficacy is about 98%.
Children as part of the routine immunization schedule: Children are routinely provided with 2 doses of varicella vaccine with the 1st dose (varicella vaccine) given at 12 months of age and the 2nd dose (MMRV vaccine) given at 4 to 6 years of age.
Unimmunized children, adolescents and adults: Two doses of a varicella or varicella-containing vaccine are needed for those who have not had chickenpox disease after 12 months of age. A self-reported history of varicella is acceptable for those born before 2004. However, for those born in 2004 and later, a health care provider diagnosis is required. It is not necessary for those who had chickenpox or shingles at one year of age or older to receive the vaccine.
People 13 years of age and older who have not had chickenpox disease (or are unsure if they have had chickenpox disease) will need a blood test to check for antibodies against the virus.
Depending on the need for measles, mumps or rubella protection, MMRV vaccine can be used for healthy children 4 to 12 years of age; otherwise varicella vaccine should be used.
For more information reagrding eligibility, guidelines for use and contraindications, please refer to the BC Immunization Manual, Part 4 - Biological Products, Varicella Vaccine.
For more information about the vaccine, who should get it, the benefits and typical side effects, read our HealthLinkBC files: