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What if I'm pregnant and I haven't had chickenpox?

If you're pregnant and you haven't had chickenpox, or you're not sure if you have, avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles.

If you do come into close contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles, get medical advice immediately.

A GP can do a blood test to check if you're immune to the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus, or VZV).

If you're not, they may recommend an injection of varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG). This can make the infection milder and not last as long.

What does 'close contact' mean?

Close contact means:

  • you have had face-to-face contact, such as a conversation
  • you have been in the same room for at least 15 minutes

What's the treatment if I'm not immune?

Treatment can reduce the risk of rare complications that chickenpox can cause during pregnancy.

The VZIG injection boosts your immune system for a short time, but won't necessarily stop chickenpox developing.

It can usually be given up to 10 days after contact with chickenpox, as long as you haven't developed a rash or blisters.

The injection doesn't work once chickenpox has developed.

For more information, see How is chickenpox treated during pregnancy?

You are potentially infectious from 8 to 28 days after the VZIG injection.

It's not known whether the VZIG injection reduces the risk of a rare condition called foetal varicella syndrome (FVS) affecting the unborn baby.

If you have a VZIG injection, you may be infectious and your GP may advise you to avoid contact with anyone who's pregnant for a certain amount of time.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 8 February 2022
Next review due: 8 February 2025