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Varicella (also called chickenpox) was a common childhood disease prior to the introduction of chickenpox vaccine in 1995. Although chickenpox still circulates in the United States, the incidence of this disease has declined significantly since that time.

Chickenpox usually causes mild disease, but it can cause severe disease, especially in immunocompromised persons. Adults typically have more severe disease than children.

Chickenpox is an airborne disease and the virus primarily spreads to susceptible persons via aerosols from the respiratory tract or skin lesions of infectious persons.

Chickenpox can lead to severe skin infection, scarring, pneumonia, brain damage, or death. Anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles later in life.

Two doses of chickenpox vaccine are recommended for people who have not had chickenpox infection. Children should receive the first dose of vaccine at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at age 4-6 years.


Child care facilities with low vaccination rates are at increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Lookup vaccination rates:

Child Care/Preschool | Kindergarten | 7th Grade   ​

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