This medication is used to help prevent varicella virus infection (commonly known as chickenpox). Chickenpox is a common childhood illness, but can cause more serious illnesses in people who have not yet had either chickenpox or this vaccine. Serious (rarely fatal) problems (such as pneumonia and inflammation of the liver or brain) may rarely occur from this infection, and first-time infections in adults may be very severe. It may also cause a very serious brain/liver condition called Reyes syndrome in children or teenagers. If you are infected while pregnant, your unborn infant may be harmed. Vaccination during childhood may help prevent this infection and the problems that can occur.
The virus in this vaccine is alive, but it has been weakened (attenuated) and therefore has a decreased ability to cause illness. It works by helping the body produce immunity (protection) that will prevent you from getting chickenpox, or will lessen the seriousness of the infection. As with any vaccine, it may not fully protect everyone who receives it. People who get chickenpox after getting the vaccine usually have mild cases with fewer blisters, fewer fevers, and faster recoveries.
The vaccine is recommended for children 12 months and older and adults who have not had chickenpox or received a varicella vaccination before.
This vaccine is usually given by injection under the skin by a health care professional.
Children aged 12 months to 12 years should receive 2 doses at least 3 months apart. Teenagers 13 years and older and adults who are not immune to the virus should receive 2 doses 4 to 8 weeks apart.
Pain/redness/bruising/swelling at the injection site, fever, or mild chickenpox-like rash may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. However, report all side effects to the doctor.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Contact your doctor for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US, you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before receiving varicella virus vaccine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as neomycin, gelatin), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: illness with a high fever over 101 degrees F (38 degrees C), immune system problems (such as due to HIV infection, cancer treatment, organ transplant), decreased immune function from other medications (see also Drug Interactions), untreated tuberculosis (TB) infection.
There is a small risk that you may expose others to infection with chickenpox for up to 6 weeks after you have been vaccinated. You should avoid being in the same room with people with immune system problems, pregnant women who have not had chickenpox, children/partners of mothers who have not had chickenpox, and newborn babies born at less than 28 weeks of pregnancy.
This medication must not be used during pregnancy. There is some risk that it may harm an unborn baby. If you have been vaccinated with varicella virus vaccine, you should not become pregnant for at least 3 months after the vaccination. Discuss the possible risks with your doctor.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some of the products that may interact with this drug include: chemotherapy, corticosteroids (such as prednisone, dexamethasone), drugs that lower the immune system (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate), certain antiviral drugs (such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir).
All children and teenagers should avoid aspirin or aspirin-like medications (such as salsalate) for 6 weeks after vaccination.
Postpone vaccination with varicella vaccine for at least 5 months if you have received a blood transfusion or other blood products (such as immune globulin, varicella zoster immune globulin). You may not develop enough antibodies to protect you from infection.
Other vaccines may be given at the same time as this vaccine, but they should be given with separate syringes and at different injection sites.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Keep vaccine records for yourself and all of your children, and after your children are grown, give the records to them and their doctors. This will prevent unnecessary re-vaccinations.
It is important that you receive each vaccination as scheduled. Be sure to ask when each dose should be received and make a note on a calendar to help you remember. If you miss an appointment, contact the doctor for advice.
Not applicable. This vaccine is given in a doctor's office and will not be stored at home.
Information last revised October 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
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