Varicella, Chicken Pox Vaccine: Is it Enough to Protect your Child against Chicken Pox?
Chicken pox is a type of illness caused by varicella zoster virus. It starts with rash and slowly turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters, which spreads on your child’s body including face, chest, arms, and legs. Other symptoms include high fever, headache, aching or painful muscles, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Chicken pox is highly contagious, which is why your child must be isolated from everyone until she is cleared.
The good news is there is a way to fight this infection, or at least minimize the symptoms – through varicella vaccine. However, not all parents are believers of chicken pox vaccine, or any kind of vaccines. Some experts and various studies also question if varicella vaccine is enough to protect their child.
Here’s what the experts are saying about the varicella vaccine.
How the vaccine is given?
The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine made of weakened varicella zoster virus. Once given, it helps your child’s immune system to produce antibodies, which could offer additional protection against chicken pox.
Varicella vaccine is given in one or two doses, preferably before the child turns 13 years old. One dose of chicken pox vaccine is enough to protect your child against the varicella zoster virus.
However, experts recommend giving the vaccine in two doses –
First dose: between 12 to 15 months
Second dose: between four to six years old or earlier as long as it is done after three months from the first dose.
If your child is 13 years old or older and she has not yet received the varicella vaccine, then two doses are recommended, which is given at least 28 days apart.
How long can it protect your child?
Some experts argue that the effects of varicella vaccine are temporary and your child can still get it anytime. However, studies show that nine out of 10 children with single-dose varicella vaccine developed immunity against chicken pox.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine could offer up to 20 years of protection, although this may vary from person-to-person. Also, giving two doses of varicella vaccine could protect your child for up to 10 years, which gives better immune response against the virus.
Is it effective?
It depends. A case study was presented showing that chicken pox vaccine is 97 percent effective during the first year and 86 percent effective on the second year. Up to its eight year, the vaccine went down to 81 percent effectiveness, which is not a bad number. Although the effectiveness of the vaccine decrease over time, this does not mean it is useless or a waste of money.
However, the vaccine might not be as effective after childhood. It could still provide ample protection, but there is no assurance that your child won’t get it. The consolation is the symptoms are milder.
Allowing your child to be vaccinated for chicken pox is all up to you as a parent. However, make sure to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. At the end of the day, your child’s health is all that matters.