Contraindications and precautions of the Varicella vaccine

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is spread easily through the air by infected people when they sneeze or cough. The disease also spreads through contact with an infected person’s chickenpox blisters. Because chickenpox is very contagious, it is possible for people who have never had chickenpox nor been vaccinated against it to become infected just by being in a room with someone who has the disease.

In order to prevent Varicella, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “The chickenpox vaccine is recommended for all susceptible children and adults who do not have contraindications for vaccination.”

What are contraindications? How do you know if you are at risk? The following information was compiled to help understand those special circumstances and scenarios when the vaccine is not in the best interest of the patient.

Contraindications, or a reason that makes it inadvisable to prescribe a particular drug or employ a particular procedure or treatment for the Varicella vaccine are as follows.

First, if you have had a history of a serious reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of varicella vaccine or to a varicella vaccine component, it is not in your best interest to receive this vaccine.

Also, if you are pregnant now or may become pregnant within 1 month of receiving the vaccine, it is not recommended you get the chickenpox vaccine. Pregnant women should be vaccinated upon completion or termination of pregnancy.

If you are having any malignant condition, including blood dyscrasias, leukemia, lymphomas of any type or other malignant neoplasms affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic systems the Varicella vaccine is contraindicated.

It is also contraindicated, if you are receiving high-dose systemic immunosuppressive therapy (e.g., two weeks or more of daily recipt of 20 mg or more [or 2 mg/kg body weight or more] of prednisone or equivalent), if you are an adult or adolescent with CD4+ T-lymphocytes count <200 cells/μL, or have a family history of congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency in first-degree relatives (e.g., parents, siblings) unless the immune competence of the potential vaccine recipient has been clinically substantiated or verified by a laboratory.

There are also several precautions that should be considered before receiving the shot. A precaution simply means that the vaccine needs to be considered only if the benefits of receiving it outweighs any risks involved with not receiving it.

For example, if you have a moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever when you have your scheduled appointment to receive the vaccination, your doctor should decide if it is in your best interest to postpone the vaccine or receive it right then and there.

In addition, if you were a recent (within the past 11 months) recipient of antibody-containing blood product (specific interval depends onproduct), it should be taken into consideration.

Also vaccination should be deferred in patients with a family history of congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency until the patient’s own immune system has been evaluated.

Vaccination should also be deferred for at least 5 months following blood or plasma transfusions or administration of immune globulin or varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG).

Any questions or doubts you may have concerning this vaccine should be taken up with your medical professional, as each contraindication and precaution should be taken seriously and into consideration.

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