Health beat: Chickenpox can be serious

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease. You or your child may be at risk if you have never had chickenpox or have never gotten the vaccine. Chickenpox causes a blisterlike rash, itching, tiredness and fever. This can make you feel sick and very uncomfortable and cause you to miss five to seven days of school or work.

Most children with chickenpox completely recover in a week. But it can be severe for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Chickenpox used to be very common in this country. About 4 million people would get it each year. Also, 10,500 to 13,000 people were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 people died because of chickenpox each year. Most people who had severe chickenpox were healthy beforehand.

Chickenpox vaccine

The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect you and your child from chickenpox. When you get vaccinated, you protect others in your community. This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.

Children should get the first dose of chickenpox vaccine when they are 12 through 15 months old and the second dose at age 4 through 6 years. People 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox should get two doses at least 28 days apart. If you or your child only got one dose in the past, check with your doctor about getting a second dose.

If you have any questions about chickenpox or the vaccine, talk with your doctor.

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