Chicken pox (Varicella) is a highly contagious disease that is generally mild in children. The illness typically lasts between 5 and 10 days. In adults, initial chickenpox symptoms can include headache, fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue. These symptoms usually occur 1 to 2 days prior to the onset of a rash; however, in children, the rash is often the first sign of infection. Complications from chickenpox are rare in healthy children and may occur more frequently in persons over age 15. Possible complications are pneumonia, bacterial infections of a skin lesion, and Reye syndrome
Recovery from chickenpox confers long lasting natural immunity and individuals rarely experience a second attack. Re-exposure to chickenpox has been found to boost immunity and reduce the risk of shingles infection in older children and adults. The widespread use of the chickenpox vaccine in the U.S. has substantially increased the rate of shingles infections in adults, as a natural boost of immunity from exposure to chickenpox in the environment is no longer occurring .
There are two chicken pox vaccines: Varivax, a live virus vaccine and ProQuad, a combination measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) live virus vaccine. Complications from the vaccine are generally mild such as redness, rash, or pain at the injection site, as well as fever. More serious side effects of chickenpox vaccine are rare, but include meningitis, pneumonia, seizures, full body rash, allergic reaction, and death.
The vaccine ingredients include: hydrolyzed gelatin, monosodium L-glutamate (MSG), sodium chloride, sucrose, sodium phosphate dibasic, potassium phosphate monobasic, and potassium chloride. Varivax also contains residual components of MRC-5 cells (from aborted fetuses), including DNA, protein, and trace quantities of sodium phosphate monobasic, neomycin, EDTA, and fetal bovine serum.