The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox. Chickenpox is a very common and highly contagious illness caused by the varicella virus. Infection with varicella virus can lead to shingles later in adulthood.

The chickenpox vaccine should not be given to children with an allergy to gelatin or neomycin. It also should not be given to children who have received gamma globulin; children who are taking prednisone, steroids, or immunosuppressive drugs; children who have leukemia, lymphoma, or other cancer; or children who are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation.

Immunization schedule—The chickenpox vaccine usually is administered as one injection, usually at 12–15 months of age and one booster at 4–6 years of age (before entering school).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015