Chickenpox vaccine: The different symptoms of chickenpox and shingles and when babies can get the vaccine

Superdrug has reported a 400 percent rise in sale of the chickenpox vaccine in the UK, but is getting the jab necessary?

By Abi Whistance
Friday, 20th May 2022, 10:44 am

Symptoms of chickenpox are often very mild in children, ranging from an uncomfortable itchy rash to a slight fever that usually disappears within two weeks.

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Symptoms of chickenpox are often very mild in children, ranging from an uncomfortable itchy rash to a slight fever. Photo: PA

So is it necessary to vaccinate your child against chickenpox, and what age are they allowed to get the jab?

Here is everything you need to know about chickenpox and shingles.

What age is allowed the chickenpox vaccine?

Babies can get a chickenpox vaccine from nine months old, however depending what pharmacy you use the age limit can vary between nine months to 12 months.

Everyone up to the age of 65 is eligible for the jab, but those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised against it.

It is recommended that you get two doses between four and eight weeks apart.

Are there any side effects?

The chickenpox vaccine can cause mild side effects, such as fever, tiredness or digestion problems.

It can also cause a mild chickenpox-like rash, but this is a rarity.

Where can I get the jab?

The chickenpox jab isn’t part of the NHS's vaccination programme in the UK, so parents are free to choose if they want their child to have the vaccination or not.

Currently the NHS only offers the vaccine to people with a weakened immune system who have come into contact with someone with chickenpox.

If this is not the case, you can purchase the vaccine privately at travel clinics or even at high street pharmacies like Boots and Superdrug.

What is the difference between shingles and chickenpox?

Although shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus, they are not the same illness.

Chickenpox is usually milder and mainly affects children, whereas shingles usually affects adults who have already had chickenpox.

Symptoms of chickenpox include:

- blistering rash

- fever

- headache

Symptoms of shingles include:

- fever

- headache

- chills

- fatigue

- muscle weakness

- an itchy rash typically on one side of your body

How to treat chickenpox and shingles

There is no specific treatment for chickenpox, but there are remedies that you can buy to help relieve symptoms.

Paracetamol can be taken to help with a fever, and calamine lotion and cooling gels can be used to ease itching.

The treatment for shingles is similar, with the NHS advising people to:

- take paracetamol to ease pain

- keep the rash clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection

- wear loose-fitting clothing

- use a cool compress a few times a day