Vaccinations

Who should have the chickenpox vaccine?

Chickenpox vaccination isn't routinely available on the NHS, but it is recommended for adults and children in regular or close contact with someone who:

  • has a weakened immune system
  • is at risk of serious illness if they catch chickenpox

Vaccination protects the person who is at risk of catching chickenpox through close contact.

The types of people who can have a chickenpox vaccination on the NHS include:

  • healthcare workers
  • close relatives and carers of people who are unwell

Healthcare workers and chickenpox

The chickenpox vaccination is recommended for healthcare workers who haven't had chickenpox before.

Healthcare workers include anyone who is likely to come into contact with a patient, including medical and nursing staff, and other workers, such as:

  • hospital cleaners 
  • hospital catering staff 
  • ambulance staff 
  • hospital or GP receptionists

Close contacts of vulnerable people

The chickenpox vaccination is also recommended for anyone (adult or child) who has hasn't had chickenpox before and is in close contact with a person who has a weakened immune system.

People with a weakened immune system includes anyone:

  • taking long-term steroid tablets
  • having chemotherapy
  • who has had their spleen removed
  • has had an organ transplant and is using immunosuppressant medicines
  • has been diagnosed with HIV or Aids

As an example, chickenpox vaccination would be recommended for:

  • brothers and sisters of a child who has leukaemia
  • a child whose parent is having chemotherapy

If you think that you or a member of your family or household needs a vaccination, contact your GP for advice.

How to check if you've had chickenpox before

Chickenpox is so common in childhood that 90% of adults in the UK are immune.

If you're not sure whether you've had chickenpox in the past, contact your GP or occupational health department. It may be in your medical notes, or you can have a blood test to check if you have antibodies to the disease, which proves you've had chickenpox before.

Who should not have the chickenpox jab?

People who should not have the chickenpox vaccine include:

  • those with a weakened immune system
  • anyone who has experienced an anaphylactic reaction (serious allergic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine, or to any of the ingredients used in the vaccine. If you are unsure whether this applies to you, ask your GP
  • pregnant women. If you have the vaccine, try to avoid becoming pregnant for three months after the last dose
  • those who are seriously unwell. They should delay vaccination until they recover

Find answers to common questions about the chickenpox vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 19/04/2014

Next review due: 19/04/2016

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Kottt said on 08 June 2014

Thank you for the prompt amendment. With the new NHS / Patient partnership you now have 67 million potential proofreaders to help improve the service. I wish you well. Literally.

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Kottt said on 05 June 2014

Chickenpox - Who should have the vaccination?
Those with a weakened immune system...
Who should Not have the jab?
Those with a weakened immune system...
Is this the NHS Choice in action?
I have a weakened immune system...
Are these things proofread?

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