The chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is provided as part of routine immunizations in British Columbia. A second dose of this vaccine has recently been added to BC's immunization schedule for infants and children.
For more information about the vaccine, who should get it, the benefits and possible reactions, visit the Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine HealthLink BC file.
- The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is free and recommended for children as part of their routine immunizations. The chickenpox vaccine is given to children as a series of 2 doses. The first dose is given at 12 months of age; a second dose is given at school entry (4 to 6 years of age). The second dose was added to the BC routine immunization schedule in January 2012. All children born in or after 1999 qualify for a second dose of the chickenpox vaccine.
- It is not necessary for those who had chickenpox or shingles at 1 year of age or older to get the vaccine.
- Starting in the 2012/2013 school year, the vaccine will also be provided to students in grade 6 who have not received 2 doses of the vaccine. Most students will only need 1 dose of vaccine if they received a dose in the past. However, those who have never received the vaccine should get 2 doses at least 3 months apart. For more information about grade 6 immunizations in BC, read HealthLinkBC File #50F.
- The vaccine is also recommended and provided free as a series of 2 doses to people born before 1999 who have never had chickenpox disease or received the vaccine. The second dose is given 6 weeks after the first dose. If you are not sure whether you have had chickenpox disease or received the vaccine, you can have a blood test to check for antibodies against the varicella virus.
- A 2nd dose of vaccine is currently not provided free for people born before 1999 who have received 1 dose of vaccine in the past. Parents of these children may purchase a 2nd dose..
- This vaccine is 100% effective against severe forms of chickenpox, and up to 90% effective against mild forms of the illness.