Should I Get My Child Vaccinated?
Because there is a small possibility of skin infection, scarring, pneumonia, brain damage, or even death as a result of chickenpox, the AAP recommends that all babies receive a chickenpox vaccine between 12 and 18 months of age -- or any time after that if they've never had the illness.
This vaccine is highly effective in protecting against severe chickenpox. Children who have had the vaccination will probably never get chickenpox. Even if they do, it will probably be a very mild form with little to no possibility of complications.
However, as with any vaccine, there are slight risks involved. These risks are very small, but it's important that you are informed of them before deciding whether or not to get your child vaccinated. Mild complications include:
- Soreness or swelling where the shot was given
- A slight fever
- A mild rash that resembles chickenpox
More severe complications, though they occur in less than one baby per 1,000 receiving the vaccination, include:
- An allergic reaction
- A high fever
- A seizure
Keep your eyes open for signs of an allergic reaction in the hours after your child gets a shot. These signs can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. A high fever or seizure, if it occurs, would happen one to six weeks after the shot.
If your child shows any of these symptoms, contact a doctor right away.
There are also some children who should not receive the vaccination at all. These include kids who:
- Have a disease or are taking medications that weaken the immune system
- Have any kind of cancer
- Are undergoing cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs
- Have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin
- Recently received a blood transfusion
For the healthy child, however, the chickenpox vaccine may be a life saver.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.