Get your chickenpox vaccination at Well Pharmacy.
You can book a chickenpox vaccine at a selection of our community pharmacies. Want to learn more? Here we explain what it is, who’s at risk of chickenpox and how to know if the vaccine is the right choice for you.
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a disease caused by a viral infection. The medical name for chickenpox is varicella, as it is caused by an infection of the varicella zoster virus. It is highly contagious and a common infection that most people catch in their childhood. Over 90% of children in the UK will have had it by the time they're teenagers.
For most people, the disease is relatively mild. However, in rare cases, chickenpox can cause more serious complications.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
The most common symptoms of chickenpox include:
- Clusters of red spots that form on your skin – these spots can be itchy and can blister, as well as form scabs
- A high temperature (over 38°C)
- Aches and pains
- A loss of appetite
Although the spots caused by chickenpox can be very itchy, these symptoms usually pass within a week. Complications are rare for the majority of people.
How do you catch chickenpox?
Chickenpox is highly contagious, meaning it’s very easy to catch.
You catch chickenpox by coming into contact with the varicella zoster virus that causes it. This can happen if someone who is infected sneezes or coughs, and you breathe in droplets they’ve expelled that have the virus in it.
You can also catch the virus by touching the fluid within the blister of someone with chickenpox. If the fluid is on their skin or on a surface and you touch it, you can also get infected.
People are most contagious from two days before their spots appear and until their spots crust over. This means people can spread the virus before they know they’re infected.
Who is at risk from chickenpox?
Anyone can catch chickenpox if they’ve not already had it. For most people it is a mild infection but in rare cases, chickenpox can cause more serious complications. These can include bacterial skin infections, pneumonia and heart problems. Those at most risk include:
- Anyone with a weakened immune system, such as someone with an illness like HIV/AIDS, or someone taking immunosuppressant medications or undergoing chemotherapy
- Pregnant women, as chickenpox can be passed to their unborn child and can cause severe disease and serious birth defects
Who should have the chickenpox vaccine?
The NHS recommends the chickenpox jab should be given to:
- People who have not previously had chickenpox, who are regularly around people with weakened immune systems (such as family members or carers of people with weakened immune systems)
- People who have not previously had chickenpox, who are healthcare workers
In these instances, the chickenpox vaccine is given more to protect vulnerable people around you, than to protect yourself. However, our vaccination service is available to anyone looking to protect themselves from the infection, as well as those eligible for the NHS service.
Who is the chickenpox vaccination service suitable for?
Our chickenpox vaccination service may be suitable for adults and children who:
- Haven’t already had the vaccine
- Haven’t had chickenpox before
- Are at least two years old, and less than 65 years old
- Are not pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are not immunocompromised (a weakened immune system)
- Haven’t had an allergic reaction to a vaccine before
- Don’t have a temperature on the day of the appointment.
Patients aged two to 12 will receive two doses of the vaccine:
- One dose at their first appointment
- Second dose ideally six weeks after the first dose
Patients aged 13 to 64 will receive two doses of the vaccine:
- One at their first appointment
- Second dose after four to eight weeks.
How long does the chicken pox vaccine last?
In children who have had both doses of the chickenpox vaccine, the vast majority develop lifelong immunity to chickenpox.
In teenagers and adults, around three quarters of people who have had the chickenpox vaccine develop a lifelong immunity.
Where can I find out more?
If you want to know more about the chickenpox vaccine, read our helpful guide on the costs.
If you have other questions, or you would like to talk to someone face-to-face, then our pharmacists are more than happy to answer any questions you have about the chickenpox vaccine. Find your nearest Well Pharmacy.
Please note: If you are a parent or guardian booking on behalf of someone who is less than 16 years old, you must attend their appointment with them, or our pharmacist reserves the right to not provide the vaccination.